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Politics & Current Affairs

Human Rights Watch Seeks To Ban Killer Robots

A campaign launched Tuesday in London is a preemptive strike against what some perceive as the inevitable evolution of today’s military drone technology.

What’s the Latest Development?

Asimov’s Three Laws be damned: On Tuesday New York-based Human Rights Watch launched a campaign seeking to stop the development of “killer robots” and other artificially intelligent weapons. The organization is putting together a coalition of groups from around the world — some of which have succeeded in enacting bans on other types of weapons, such as landmines — that will ask nations to sign a treaty that preemptively bans the technology. Executive Steve Goose says, “A human should always be ‘in-the-loop’ when decisions are made on the battlefield. Killer robots would cross moral and legal boundaries, and should be rejected as repugnant to the public conscience.”

What’s the Big Idea?

Military robotics technology has grown significantly in the last few years, and many experts believe it’s only a matter of time before fully autonomous weapons become more common. While the US has led the way with unmanned drones, in South Korea a sentry robot currently being used can talk to trespassers and — with human authorization — shoot them if necessary. Goose says humans need to get ahead of this technology before it gets ahead of them: “[T]he line needs to be drawn now.”

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