UN Starts Talks on 'Killer Robots'

Rights groups worried about machines programmed to kill

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted May 13, 2014 5:02 PM CDT

(Newser) – It sounds like a panel discussion worthy of Comic Con, but this four-day summit on "lethal autonomous robots" is instead taking place under the auspices of the UN Convention on Conventional Weapons in Geneva, reports AFP. The premise is simple enough: Groups such as Human Rights Watch are worried that nations will begin deploying killer robots in the not-too-distant future to indiscriminately kill humans, and they want to get moratoriums in place to stop their development, reports al-Jazeera America.

"We don't see how these inanimate machines could understand or respect the value of life, yet they would have the power to determine when to take it away," says one arms expert for Human Rights Watch. "The only answer is a preemptive ban on fully autonomous weapons." Early versions of such machines are already surfacing. Drones are close, but humans still decide when and where they kill, notes the Verge. Critics are worried that drones or similar machines of the future wouldn't have such restrictions. The story points out that South Korea already uses sentry robots that can be programmed to shoot intruders who don't know the right password. The summit that begins today is seen as the first step toward a international rules.

  (Shutterstock)
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