The technology is staggering – but so are the ethical and murky legal areas that ‘autonomous’ military fighting machines are fast heading towards.
Under intense pressure from corporate military lobbyists and their army of lawyers, the so-called ‘experts’ on this subject have had some difficulty adjusting to both technological advances, as well as the entire premise of modern imperial warfare.
There is a 21st century robot army being built right now, and there are hundred of billions in contracts at stake.
As you will read below, Europe may be acting as an ethical restraint against an out-of-control, killer drone industry, but United States leaders in robots and drones will still lobby hard. Regardless of the legal games being played, mega corps will still plough ahead and sell their wears to the highest bidder. According to the Brookings Institute, big ticket items in the US military field include:
“… new energy systems, such as lasers; new hardware, such as robots and unmanned systems; new manufacturing techniques, including 3-D printing; and new software dealing with cyberwarfare and cybersecurity”.
Where is it all heading?
‘Killer Robots’ could be outlawed.
‘Killer Robots’ could be made illegal if campaigners in Geneva succeed in persuading a UN committee, meeting on Thursday and Friday, to open an investigation into their development.
BAE Systems’ Taranis, a semi-autonomous unmanned warplane, that will use stealth technology and can fly intercontinental missions and attack both aerial and ground targets Photo: HANDOUT
The first steps towards the outlawing of “killer robots” could be taken on Thursday, as a UN committee meets to decide whether to investigate banning the controversial technology.
Campaigners are hoping that representatives from 117 states gathering for a two-day annual meeting in Geneva will agree to an inquiry into the development of the machines, which they say pose a serious threat to the world.
“People initially accused us of being in some kind of fantasy world,” said Noel Sharkey, professor of artificial intelligence and robotics at Sheffield University, and one of the founders of the Stop the Killer Robots coalition. “But now they have realised that significant developments are already under way.
“At the moment we already have drones, which are supervised by humans – I have a lot of issues with these, but they can be used in compliance with international law.
“What we are talking about however is fully-automated machines that can select targets and kill them without any human intervention. And that is something we should all be very worried about.”
The UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) brings together representatives to discuss issues such as the use of chemical gases and landmines.
France is currently chair of the organisation, and campaigners are hopeful that Ambassador Jean-Hughes Simon-Michel, chairman of the CCW, will persuade delegates to support an inquiry. Just one veto to the proposal, however, would prevent it being discussed.
No country has admitted to developing this kind of technology – although Oliver Sprague, Amnesty International UK’s Arms Programme Director, said that Britain, the US and Israel were the countries thought to be furthest down the road of development.