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article imageCall to ban autonomous killer robots

By Tim Sandle     Feb 17, 2019 in Technology
It may seem like the scene from a sci-fi movie, but future conflicts could be fought using killer robots, with artificial intelligence giving robots free reign. For this reason, a new campaign is calling for a global ban on developing such machines.
At the conceptual level the idea of killer robots is no longer a remote possibility. Already drones and other military machines can be piloted remotely, and some are equipped with missiles. Given the pace of development in relation of autonomous technology for vehicles, and the advances with artificial intelligence in general, the idea of a machine that can directs itself in battle is plausible and, some might argue, inevitable.
Inevitable, that is, unless concerted action is taken by governments to ban the development of these types of devices. This would be something similar to the treaty that is in place prohibiting the use of chemical weapons (the 1997 Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction). Even the chemical weapons convention can be broke, however, as the use of blister agents such as mustard gas, and nerve agents such as sarin and VX in Syria showed. That said, it is easier to fabricate a chemical weapon than is to develop a military robot from scratch.
The call to ban research into killer robots is being led by Toby Walsh, a researcher in artificial intelligence at the University of New South Wales in Australia. Dr. Walsh is lobbying the United Nations, as the organization to put the required measures in place. A group of like minded scientists discussed the issue at a recent meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington.
Earlier this year, Dr. Wlash was one of fifty leading academics who signed a letter calling for a boycott of Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) and its partner, defence manufacturer Hanwha Systems to cease the development of autonomous military robots.
In the video below, Dr. Walsh discusses "Killer Robots: The Third Revolution in Warfare":
In terms of the technologies, Dr. Walsh explains to the Globe and Mail: "We are not talking about Terminator. We’re talking about much simpler technologies that, at best, are few years away … and many of which we can see in development today.”
Dr. Walsh is of the view that there is a moral line that should not be crossed because autonomous weapons do not possess the moral capability to make decisions on who it should or shouldn’t kill.
More about Robots, Military robots, Warfare, Military
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