Amnesty International demands ban on killer robots, slams China, UK, US, others

Amnesty International (AI) and the Stop Killer Robots campaign, on Tuesday, unveiled a social media filter which provides a terrifying glimpse of the future of war, policing and border control.

The global campaign is demanding a new international law to ban autonomous weapons systems.

AI expressed disappointment that despite serious concerns, Australia, China, India, Israel, Russia, South Korea, United Kingdom and United States are investing heavily in the development of autonomous systems.

China is creating “swarms” which could be programmed to attack anything that emits a body temperature; Russia has built a robot tank which can be fitted with a machine gun or grenade launcher; UK is developing an unmanned drone which can fly and identify a target within a programmed area.

Amnesty International and Stop Killer Robots have launched a petition calling on all governments to voice their support for negotiations.

Verity Coyle, AI’s Senior Advisor on Military, Security and Policing said the world is stumbling into a nightmare scenario, a world where drones and other advanced weapons can choose and attack targets without human control.

Coyle explained that the campaign is designed to give people an idea of what killer robots could soon be capable of, and show why we must act urgently to maintain human control over the use of force.

The official warned against allowing machines to make life-or-death decisions, calling such an assault on human dignity which will likely result in devastating violations of the laws of war and human rights.

Robots manufacturing, according to the advisor, will also intensify the digital dehumanisation of society, reducing people to data points to be processed.

“We need a robust, legally binding international treaty to stop the proliferation of killer robots – before it’s too late”, Coyle urged.

Ousman Noor of the Stop Killer Robots campaign regretted that more than a decade of talks on autonomous weapons at the United Nations are being blocked by the same states that are developing the weapons.

“The UN Secretary General, the International Committee of the Red Cross, Nobel Prize Winners, thousands of scientists, roboticists and tech workers, are all calling for a legal treaty to prevent these weapons.”

Noor told nations and governments to draw a line against machines that can choose to kill.

On December 2, 2021, the Group of Governmental Experts to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) will begin discussions on whether to proceed with negotiations on a new treaty to address the threat posed by killer robots.

Till date, 66 countries have called for a new, legally binding framework on autonomy in weapons systems but progress has been stalled by a few powerful states.

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