The Bulletin

UN moves to ban Terminator 'killer robots'

Posting in Technology

A UN official has asked for robots with autonomous killing capabilities to be banned before they exist.

Christof Heyns, UN special rapporteur on summary executions, has asked for a moratorium on Lethal Autonomous Robotics (LARs), which he says could have serious consequences for human lives in times of both war and peace.

The UN human rights investigator believes that before technology expands to this future, talks should be held to establish "a high-level panel on LARs to articulate a policy for the international community on the issue."

In a world already full of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) including surveillance drones and high-tech weaponry that can cause devastation from thousands of miles away, robots that have the capability of acting autonomously may not be able to distinguish legal from illegal action, and civilians may be subjected to lethal force from operators who are not physically present.

Submitting a report on the topic, Heyns' words were welcomed by the Human Rights Watch, which has campaigned on the topic before. President Barack Obama has argued that UAVs are the most effective and efficient way to deal with terrorism.

Steve Goose, director of the HRW, commented:

"The U.S. and every other country should endorse and carry out the UN call to stop any plans for killer robots in their tracks. It is possible to halt the slide toward full autonomy in weaponry before moral and legal boundaries are crossed, but only if we start to draw the line now."

Read More: The Independent

Image credit: Flickr

— By on May 30, 2013, 1:04 AM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure