Killer Robots

How serious is the threat of killer robots? A new draft of a report coming out of the U.N. Human Rights Commission looks to negate the possible threat of the use of unmanned vehicles with the ability to end human life without the intervention of another human being. In the 22-page report, which was released online as a PDF, the Human Rights Commission explained the mission of the document in the following terms:

“Lethal autonomous robotics (LARs) are weapon systems that, once activated, can select and engage targets without further human intervention. They raise far-reaching concerns about the protection of life during war and peace. This includes the question of the extent to which they can be programmed to comply with the requirements of international humanitarian law and the standards protecting life under international human rights law. Beyond this, their deployment may be unacceptable because no adequate system of legal accountability can be devised, and because robots should not have the power of life and death over human beings. The Special Rapporteur recommends that States establish national moratoria on aspects of LARs, and calls for the establishment of a high level panel on LARs to articulate a policy for the international community on the issue.”

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