Countries are warning of the potential dangers of autonomous weapons systems or “Killer robots” that can identify and destroy targets in the absence of human control.
There is a risk of violation of international and humanitarian law.
‘Every discussion of robots and warfare will always come back to one, or both, of two science fiction touchstones: Skynet and Asimov, reports the Telegraph
“Skynet”, the artificial intelligence defence system described in the Terminator films, gains self-awareness and immediately attempts to wipe out humanity. In Isaac Asimov’s robot stories, he imagines “three laws of robotics”, the first of which instructed all robots: “A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm”. Those are the options, popularly understood: robot murderers trying to destroy mankind; or pacifistic automatons barred by their programming from hurting humans at all.
If a group of activists with the splendid name “The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots” is to be believed, we are now at a watershed: a decision point, at which we can choose between, crudely speaking, a version of one or other of these two futures.’
A special UN meeting in Geneva this week is discussing the use of “lethal autonomous weapons” otherwise known as battle robots. Not so long ago this would have been a matter for science fiction, just as the Terminator is, but recently it has become an increasingly imminent concern.
The Guardian continues: “Killer robots” – autonomous weapons systems that can identify and destroy targets in the absence of human control – should be strictly monitored to prevent violations of international or humanitarian law, nations from around the world demanded on Thursday.
The European Union, France, Spain, Austria, Ireland, the Netherlands, Croatia, Mexico and Sierra Leone, among other states, lined up at a special UN meeting in Geneva to warn of the potential dangers of this rapidly advancing technology. Several countries spoke of the need for ongoing scrutiny to ensure that the weapons conformed to the Geneva conventions’ rules on proportionality in war.