UN Not in a Hurry to Ban Killer Robots

theresa may UN crowd

Opposing counties have warned that fully operational autonomous weapons of mass destruction are not a great idea and have called for regulations that ensure effective human control.

It would seem as though the United Nations’ Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) is not in a great big hurry to ban what is seen as “Killer Robots”. The CCM also does not seem to be too concerned about the introduction of regulations for these types of robots.

Killer robots can be defined as any piece of robotic equipment which is able to identify and destroy targets devoid of human involvement. It has been reported that India’s disarmament ambassador and chair of the meeting, Amandeep Gill, had tried to steer questioning away from the topic during discussions.

He said during the meeting that robots were not taking over the world. Adding that we as humans were still in charge. According to news reports, he also said that care has to be taken to not bring emotions into the issue through dramatizations. He said this in response to questions over why the UN was moving so slowly to regulate robots used in war.

Gill added that while the progress of banning or even creating rules for use of such weapons may seem slow, he was happy with the progress which had been made. And, while the hoped-for ban did not actually happen the discussion have paved the ground for further talks which are set to take place over two weeks in 2018. There were, however, two points which most nations agreed on.

Firstly that there would need to be a legally binding instrument to control the use, development, and creation of such weapons. And, secondly that there must always be a form of human control over weapons systems.

The next step for delegates will be to decide what it means to have effective human control. Apart from several advocacy groups, a total of 22 nations also called for a complete bad on the development of fully autonomous weapons. These were highlighted as the ones programmed with the ability to make kill decisions. The opposing nations were classified as having small military budgets with lesser technical expertise.

Toby Walsh, an expert on AI at the University of New South Wales in Australia said that should they be allowed to go into production, these can be classified as weapons of mass destruction. He said that he was confident there would be a ban on such military weapons.

He underlined the need for a ban on killer robots by stating that countries should have the courage of conviction to do it now rather than wait for people to die first. But, already countries are taking steps to ban the use of fully automated weapons. One such country is the UK which enforced the ban earlier this year.

Other countries on the other hand such as Russia, show no signs of slowing down the development of its AI-powered weapons. Military forces from Russia have already this year showcased drones, light tanks, and guns which are AI-powered.

The culmination of the 5-day event took place on 18 November. During the event, delegates were also shown a short film titled Slaughterbots with the aim of warning CCW members against killer robots in the wrong hands.