Increasing international calls to ban “killer robots” – weapons that would kill without meaningful human control
Humanity is on the verge of creating machines that select and target human prey without human intervention. Many states including China, Israel, South Korea, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States are currently developing and deploying precursors to fully autonomous ‘killer robots’, from armed drones to automated sentry guns on border walls. These States are heavily investing in military grade artificial intelligence (AI) in an attempt to create the ultimate killing machine and fully automate war.
While these countries push to advance these deadly technologies they are also actively sabotaging any efforts to regulate it. They claim efforts to regulate killer robots are “premature” and gaslight any concerns towards the dangers these weapons ultimately produce by threatening the right to life, the principles of human dignity, and the respect for international law especially the clauses relating to war.
The ‘Killer robots’ are now one of multiple top existential threats currently faced by the planet. Dozens of States and activist groups worldwide are now calling for immediate attention to regulate these dangerous technologies and preserve the dignity of human life. In September 2019 France and Germany led dozens of countries in a high-level United Nations General Assembly, forming an “Alliance for Multilateralism”. They identified’ killer robots’ as being among six “politically relevant” issues requiring an urgent multilateral response.
There have been at least eight meetings on’ killer robots’ by the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) since 2014 have found widespread agreement among 80 States on the need to retain some form of human control over the use of force. With at least 30 States fully committing to a preemptive ban. UN Secretary-General António Guterres has also expressed grave concern that “killer robots could take the place of soldiers.” He called the prospect of machines with the power to choose who to kill and when “morally repugnant and politically despicable,” he has called for a new treaty banning these technologies to be negotiated, and offered UN support towards that goal.
At least 4,200 leading AI experts, roboticists, scientists, and technology workers warn that algorithms are fed by biased and faulty data especially coupled with the growing resurgence of white nationalism and fascism, which, if applied in weapons, could disproportionately target and kill people of certain demographics. Furthermore ‘Killer robots’ would be vulnerable to hacking and attacks that could reprogram them to attack their masters or others by changing its targeting data.
An increase in public pressure and a further understanding of these technologies, especially the dangers they present, is needed worldwide. The population at large needs to call for a unified voice demanding a preemptive ban on these technologies before we find them in war zones or in our streets.
Join the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots and demand a ban treaty now.