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'Killer robots' to be debated at the UN

New York: This will be the first time that the issue of killer robots, or lethal autonomous weapons systems, will be addressed within the Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW).

Those in favour of killer robots believe the current laws of war may be sufficient to address any problems that might emerge if they are ever deployed, arguing that a moratorium, not an outright ban, should be called if this is not the case. However, those who oppose their use believe they are a threat to humanity and any autonomous “kill functions” should be banned.

“Autonomous weapons systems cannot be guaranteed to predictably comply with international law,” Professor Sharkey said. “Nations aren’t talking to each other about this, which poses a big risk to humanity.”

He is a member and co-founder of the Campaign Against Killer Robots and chairman of the International Committee for Robot Arms Control. Side events at the CCW will be hosted by the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots.

Prof Arkin from the Georgia Institute of Technology said he hoped killer robots would be able to significantly reduce non-combatant casualties but feared they would be rushed into battle before this was accomplished. “I support a moratorium until that end is achieved, but I do not support a ban at this time,” he said. 

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