PICTURED ABOVE: A fully automated combat module featuring this technology is planned to be demonstrated at Russia’s Army-2017 Forum.

Well, that escalated quickly…

According to the Russian news agency TASS, the manufacturer of the world-famous Kalashnikov AK-74 rifle is expanding its product line to include “a range of products based on neural networks,” including a “fully automated combat module” able to identify and shoot at its targets.

“Kalashnikov Group, the producer of the famous AK-74 assault rifle, has developed a fully automated combat module based on neural network technologies that enable it to identify targets and make decisions,” Kalashnikov Director for Communications Sofiya Ivanova told TASS on Wednesday.

“In the imminent future, the Group will unveil a range of products based on neural networks. A fully automated combat module featuring this technology is planned to be demonstrated at the Army-2017 forum,” Ivanova said.

A “neural network” is an independent learning system which operates by using both a preset algorithm as well as acquired experience.

Defense One reports:

Russia’s willingness to embrace lethal autonomy stands in stark contrast to U.S. policy. In 2012, then-Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter (later defense secretary) signed a directive forbidding the U.S. to allow any robot or machine to take lethal action without the supervision of a human operator.

In2015, then-Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work said fully automated killing machines were un-American. “I will make a hypothesis: that authoritarian regimes who believe people are weaknesses,” he said, “that they cannot be trusted, they will naturally gravitate toward totally automated solutions. Why do I know that? Because that is exactly the way the Soviets conceived of their reconnaissance strike complex. It was going to be completely automated. We believe that the advantage we have as we start this competition is our people.”

In a YouTube video titled “Combat Robots”, Russian TV channel STAR highlights the combat robot “Uranus-9”, a high-tech machine equipped with advanced weapons, including a 30-millimeter cannon, a machine gun, and guided missiles able to identify and hit ground and air targets. The video shows how Uranus-9 is able to independently overcome obstacles, acquire targets, and apply weapons in combat conditions.