It's time to terminate killer autonomous robots, UN told

22 October 2019, 01:54 | Updated: 22 October 2019, 04:28

Killer autonomous robots that use algorithms and sensors to determine when to kill people should be banned, the UN has been told.

The Campaign To Stop Killer Robots has called on the international community to create a treaty to regulate drones, vehicles and boats that operate on their own.

Organisers say artificial intelligence technology is advancing so rapidly that legislation is urgently needed.

The treaty would prohibit weapons systems that do not allow human control and those that make kill decisions without human consultation.

The group includes Jody Williams, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 for her work on the International Campaign to Ban Land Mines.

She said: "A machine is not a moral anything. It's a machine.

"So allowing machines to, in theory, through algorithms decide what they will target and what they will attack is one of the huge reasons why we consider it to be crossing the Rubicon and grossly unethical and immoral.

"Machines should be in the service of human beings. Human beings should not be in the service of machines."

Mary Wareham of Human Rights Watch said: "We're thinking and talking about this quietly, but there are not yet negotiations, and this is why we are here, is to call for the launch of negotiations on the treaty to ban killer robots and retain meaningful human control over the use of force."

"We aspire to create a broad-based movement that will create so much pressure that the governments launch negotiations on a new international treaty to prohibit weapon systems that would select and engage targets without meaningful human control."