Are Killer Robots On The Way?

Are Killer Robots On The Way?

In February this year, the South Korean university, Kaist, sparked fears that it could develop killer robots. This fear has arisen because of it opening an artificial intelligence weapons laboratory, which experts see as them trying to accelerate the arms race.

Although Kaist has denied this is their aim, 50 of the worlds leading robotics experts have decided to boycott them, as stated in an open letter to the university. The letter said that all collaborations with any part of Kaist will stop until such times as the university president gives assurances that the centre will not develop autonomous weapons lacking meaningful human control. The experts had already asked for this, but at the time of signing the letter had not received any such assurances.

The Advancement Of AI 

AI has advanced at a much quicker rate than anyone imagined it would, and it is this astronomical progression that creates the potential of Terminator like robots. At least 22 nations have already called for a pre-emptive ban on robotic weapons, but others, including China, Russia, the US and South Korea are already developing such weapons.

The Kaist AI weapons laboratory has 60 professors and robotics experts and they have had with opening it from the Korean arms manufacturer Hanwa Systems. It has the capacity and expertise to carry out AI research on a global scale.

Most of the time when the public see AI it is with robots that have been developed to help, not to kill. Ones like Sophia whose AI capabilities have made her a media darling and a Saudi Arabian citizen.

The Campaign To Stop Killer Robots

Fully autonomous weapons would have the ability to identify and attack its targets without human intervention. The 22 countries that form the Campaign To Stop Killer Robots are seeking to ban them and have been lobbying the United Nations, part of the argument being that by definition they are illegal. Any sort of decision to launch a military strike has to be made by a human.

It is thought that an outright ban is unlikely, but that the UN may introduce stricter rules regarding robotic weapons, to at least try and control their development.

The Russian Robotic Tank 

Russia has unveiled an unmanned tank that can attack buildings on its own, and give protection to foot soldiers. According to its makers, it is also capable of guard duties, scouting, patrolling and dealing with mines.

Some experts are referring to it as a killer robot tank, but this is just one of the hi-tech weapons the Russians have developed.

Who Would Be Responsible?

Autonomous robots would lack the human judgment, so who would be responsible if they break international laws on human rights? Who would be to blame if they incorrectly determine that the damage to civilians outweighs the military advantage? It is questions like these that have encouraged Austria and an African group of countries to join the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots.

The countries that make up the group are saying that new international laws are needed to prevent the development, production and use of fully autonomous weapons.

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