Anxiety about deadly robots

Science

Concerns are growing around the world about ‘killer robots’. Robots or automated instruments can be used as automatic weapons. Therefore, discussions are underway to determine the necessary ethics in making robots. This discussion has spread to the United Nations. An international agreement is also being discussed in this regard.

Despite growing concerns about deadly robots, Russia, the United States and other robot makers are opposed to such an agreement. However, government officials and non-governmental organizations of different countries are expressing frustration over the non-progress of the talks. This was reported in a report in the New York Times.

At present semi-automatic devices like drones are being used for various purposes. Their use on the battlefield has already raised concerns. However, control of devices like drones is in the hands of human beings. Compared to that, fully automatic weapons (killer robots) do not have any ‘kill switch’ or control in human hands. Instead the device itself can make decisions using its sensors, software and technical processes. In this case, human life can become risky.

Al-Jazeera, a Qatar-based media outlet, reports that the issue of urgency to control the industry has come to the fore since the release of a report by a UN panel last March. The report says the first automatic drone strike took place in Libya.

This week, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on 125 parties to come up with new policies at the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW). However, the conference failed to discuss the development of Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems (LWS) and its use. At the five-day conference in Geneva, the countries that produced the LWS disagreed with many conditions. They disagree, especially with machine guns.

Russia, India and the United States have the most objections to the LWS agreement. However, six countries have called on the United Nations to legislate on the issue. A source close to the news agency told Reuters.

Expressing frustration over the outcome of the conference, Felix Baumann, Switzerland’s ambassador for disarmament, said:

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