UN report wants to terminate killer robots, opposes life-or-death powers over humans
May 2, 2013
The Canadian Press
Killer robots that can attack targets without any human input “should not have the power of life and death over human beings,” a new draft U.N. report says.
The report for the U.N. Human Rights Commission posted online this week deals with legal and philosophical issues involved in giving robots lethal powers over humans, echoing countless science-fiction novels and films. The debate dates to author Isaac Asimov’s first rule for robots in the 1942 story “Runaround:” ”A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.”
Report author Christof Heyns, a South African professor of human rights law, calls for a worldwide moratorium on the “testing, production, assembly, transfer, acquisition, deployment and use” of killer robots until an international conference can develop rules for their use.
His findings are due to be debated at the Human Rights Council in Geneva on May 29.
In the report, Heyns focuses on a new generation of weapons that choose their targets and execute them. He calls them “lethal autonomous robotics,” or LARs for short, and says: “Decisions over life and death in armed conflict may require compassion and intuition. Humans — while they are fallible — at least might possess these qualities, whereas robots definitely do not.”
[hat tip: Luke Rudowski]