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Human Rights Watch urges international ban on 'killer robots'

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Human Rights Watch has called for an international ban on ‘killer robots’ – autonomous machines that independently decide their targets, Press TV reports.

“They’re weapons where there is no human intervention. That is, the armed robot itself makes the decision about what its target should be and when it should pull the trigger,” Stephen Goose, the arms division director of Human Rights Watch told Press TV.

“Killer robots are the shorthand name for fully autonomous weapons. These are something we think of as being beyond drones,” Goose said, adding that “the farther down the road this gets, the harder it’s going to be to stop it.”

The expert said an international ban, as well as prohibitions in each country, must be started before these robots become the future of war.

“The more money that’s poured into it, the more time passes, the more they’re going to get integrated into future war plans and into the doctrine of various militaries. We think the only way to approach this is to nip it in the bud and to have a prohibition now,” Goose added.

Goose criticized the role of the United States military in the “secretive and classified” development of these deadly weapons.

The US Pentagon has begun a contest, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Robotics Challenge, to advance its efforts to develop robotic soldiers to fight the wars of the future, focusing on testing the robots’ abilities to work in difficult situations designed for humans that “simulate conditions in a dangerous, degraded, human-engineered environment.”

He added that these weapons would violate the proportionality test, which is required under international humanitarian law to weigh the advantages of an attack against possible civilian casualties.

“These kinds of weapons would make it more likely that a state would go to war…shifting the burden of conflict away from the military, those who are trained to fight, to civilians who will bear the brunt of any mistakes that these killer robots make. And they will inevitably make mistakes,” Goose concluded.

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2 Responses to " Human Rights Watch urges international ban on 'killer robots' "

  1. Zharkov says:

    The time and place to stop this trend is with the drones used to kill people accused of being “militants” merely because they visit the wrong house.

    Extra judicial killings are legally classified as murder no matter where they occur, unless a country is at war with the country in which the victims were killed and the victims were active combatants engaged in battle at the moment of death.

    For example, how do drone operators know whether the guy they blew up had not just deserted from the jihad?

    How could a drone operator know who is a combatant when they are not engaged in battle at that moment?

    Pakistan’s government may be willing to look away from the serial killings by drones in their country but that does not excuse the homicides. Drone murders are illegal in every country according to their own laws. It is the responsibility of those national leaders to assert their authority to prosecute murders committed within their countries, and when they fail to apply their own laws, they should be replaced.

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  2. Ser Korz says:

    defensively it can be moral ; but offensively used it will be mostly immoral; criminal .

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