6. UN Convention on CCW and all states shall prohibit developing or deploying lethal autonomous weapons.

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Rapporteurs: Erin Hunt and Gerardo Lebron Laboy, Mines Action Canada


Lethal Autonomous Weapons (LAWs) refers to future weapons that would select their targets and engage (kill) based on their programming. They will be “autonomous” in the sense that they would not require human intervention to actuate (act or operate according to its programming).(1) Being solely algorithmic driven, LAWs will be able to kill without any human interference or oversight.

The following arguments have been offered in support of the development of LAWs:

LAWs technology could offer better military performance and thus enhance mission effectiveness
  • LAWs, being a product of robotics, could be faster, stronger, and have better endurance than human soldiers in every perspective, not being subject to fatigue.
  • Better environmental awareness; robotic sensors could provide better battlefield observation.
  • Higher and longer range precision: Also, given advanced sensor technology, LAWs could have better target precision and a longer range.
  • Better responsiveness: LAWs will not be subject to the uncertainty in situational awareness that participants in military operations may go through because of communication problems or sight or vision obstructions (fog of war). Through an interconnected system of multiple sensors and intelligence sources, LAWs could have the capacity to update instantly more information than humans and faster, which would enable better awareness of their surroundings.
  • Emotionless advantage: LAWs would not have emotions that cloud their judgement.
  • Self sacrificing nature: LAWs would not have a self-preservation tendency and thus could be used in self sacrificing manners if needed and appropriate.
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Howard Wells

Original author: Zachary Fryer-Biggs, “Coming Soon to a Battlefield: Robots that Can Kill,” The Atlantic, Sept 3, 2019.

The U.S. Navy ‘s ship Sea Hunter patrols the oceans without a crew, looking for submarines that, one day, it may attack directly. nd the U.S. Army has a missile system that, without humans, can pick out vehicles to attack. So what do we think of such things? And what can we do about it? Here’s what Zachary Fryer-Biggs wrote in The Atlantic: https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2019/09/killer-robots-and-new-era-machine-driven-warfare/597130/

Ruth Needham

And Artificial Intelligence itself is supposed to be a real threat to humanity, according to some theorists. But maybe not quite as soon as killer robots.

Autonomous weapons that kill must be banned, insists UN chief 25 March 2019 Culture and Education UN Secretary-General António Guterres urged artificial intelligence (AI) experts meeting in Geneva on Monday to push ahead with their work to restrict the development of lethal autonomous weapons systems, or LAWS, as they are also known. In a message to the Group of Governmental Experts, the UN chief said that “machines with the power and discretion to take lives without human involvement are politically unacceptable, morally repugnant and should be prohibited by international law”. No country or armed force is in favour of such… Read more »

Lethal Autonomous Weapons (LAWs) are aptly called “killer robots,” though they don’t actually look like Arnold Schwartznegger. They decide whom to kill without consulting a person. You’d never want to get into a fight with one.