We Need To Crack Down On 'Killer Robots' Warns U.N. Official

Illustration for article titled We Need To Crack Down On Killer Robots Warns U.N. Official

Forget chemical weapons and drone strikes. That crap is all 2000-and-late, you guys. These days, we need to be worried about just one thing when it comes to the future of warfare: killer robots!

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At least, that's what one United Nations human rights investigator said today, according to Reuters. That official, South African law professor Christof Heyns, said he's concerned because the U.S., Britain and Israel are apparently testing deadly autonomous weapons "without debate on moraI and legal issues."

For this reason, he's calling for a worldwide moratorium on what he calls "lethal autonomous robotics", according to Reuters.

"Their deployment may be unacceptable because no adequate system of legal accountability can be devised and because robots should not have the power of life and death over human beings."

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Indeed. I think this is cool because now you're getting into Isaac Asimov-style debates about whether or not robots can or should be allowed to harm humans.

And we have a lot to fear when it comes to robots anyway. Don't think they can't come in vehicular form, like the autonomous truck that James May battled in that one Top Gear episode, or Truckasaurus.

There's also Mega Man. I'm especially worried about him. That little weapon-stealing asshole just doesn't stay down.

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Heyns said that drone strikes — which President Obama said today will be more restricted in the future but really aren't going anywhere — are problematic enough, but he's really concerned about autonomous machines getting deployed against people. How will they distinguish between combatants and civilians, and will they follow the rules of war?

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Of course, we've seen plenty of cases in recent years where conventional warfare has failed on both those counts. But many human rights groups are concerned that killer robots are the way of the future, and are seeking to clamp down on them now.

Thoughts on war robots? Go!

Photo credit AP/Capcom

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DISCUSSION

I appreciate the effort to make this article car-related.

Because this article is awesome. It's just too bad that modern day drones are all 'wah wah efficiency wah wah accuracy' and not more 'NAPALM AND THUNDER'. Seriously, Terminator told me that skynet would take over the world by now.