Killer Robots: From Sci-Fi to Reality

During the event called, “Determined to Save Succeeding Generations from the Scourge of War,” organized by the UN Department of Public Information and the Permanent Mission of Switzerland, Nobel Laureate Jody Williams, founder of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, expressed her concern over Lethal Autonomous Robots (LARs). Whereas a human controls a drone, selects a target, and determines whether taking out said target is a worthwhile step strategically; Lethal Autonomous Robots would be programmed to recognize, select, and eliminate targets all by themselves. LARs obviously raise several difficult ethical questions, but the United States, the United Kingdom, and Israel are all working on the technology.

While these “killer robots” may sound like something out of a bad science fiction movie, they could conceivably be on battlefields by 2040. The UN report explaining LARs calls for an immediate moratorium on any further research and development pertaining to these weapons, as they denigrate the value of human life. The report points out that LARs could actually result in war-without-end, as they present “the danger of permanent (if low-level) armed conflict, obviating the opportunity for post-war reconstruction.”

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