Members of the United Nations general assembly in New York are currently working on a preemptive ban of autonomous weapons systems (a.k.a. killer robots). However, some experts say a ban will not come soon enough to prevent such weapons from being deployed.
According to the Guardian, countries including the United States and the United Kingdom are working to deploy several autonomous weapons before a ban is put in place. These countries are also working to ensure that such a ban only focuses on “emerging technology,” which means any weapons deployed ahead of time will not be retroactively prohibited from the battlefield.
“China wanted to discuss ‘existing and emerging technologies’ but the wording insisted on by the US and the UK is that it is only about emerging technologies,” said Professor Noel Sharkey, co-founder of the International Committee for Robot Arms Control. “Ostensibly this is because there is concern that… we will want to ban some of their current defensive weapons… However, if the discussions go on for several years… many of the weapons that we are concerned about will already have been developed and potentially used.”
Supporters of such weapons claim they will help to reduce battlefield casualties and save the lives of countless military personal. However, opponents cite the inherent danger of taking human judgment out of a military equation. And given the amount of research and development being put toward autonomous weapons by numerous countries, some also fear we will soon be in the midst of a robot arms race.
“A lot of money is going into development and people will want a return on their investment,” said Christof Heyns, an official working for the UN. “If there is not a preemptive ban on the high-level autonomous weapons then once the genie is out of the bottle it will be extremely difficult to get it back in.”
Call me old fashioned, but on the one hand, I’d prefer the United States develop this technology before Russia or China. But on the other hand, after watching Chopping Mall at a young age, I’m keenly aware that autonomous weapons are a very bad idea.
(Source: The Guardian)