Experts Call to Regulate Killer Robots

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AI technology is advancing rapidly and is now being used in military technology, weapons systems that could kill almost without human intervention. Many experts claim that this poses immense ethical and legal challenges that the world needs to address, and soon.

An international conference held in Vienna called “Humanity at the Crossroads: Autonomous Weapons Systems and the Challenge of Regulation” consisted of discussions regarding the renewed efforts to regulate the use of artificial intelligence in autonomous weapons systems (AWS), also called “killer robots.”

In the conference, Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg said: “We cannot let this moment pass without taking action. Now is the time to agree on international rules and norms to ensure human control,” and called to leave the last and most crucial decision, who lives and who dies, in the hands of humans.

Many other participants expressed agreement that the window for action was closing rapidly. Diplomats say that AI is already being used on the battlefield – for example, drones in Ukraine are designed to find their own way to their target when signal-jamming technology cuts them off from their operator.

“We have already seen AI making selection errors in ways both large and small…We must be extremely cautious about relying on the accuracy of these systems, whether in the military or civilian sectors,” said software programmer and tech investor Jaan Tallinn, who has been calling for the past year that the extinction risk from AI is not just possible, but imminent to the human race.

According to Cybernews, autonomous weapons systems are systems that choose a target and fire on it based on sensor inputs rather than human inputs. Bonnie Docherty, law lecturer at Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic (IHRC) said in an interview that such ‘killer robot’ systems “have been under development for a while but are rapidly becoming a reality… Delegating life-and-death decisions to machines crosses a red line for many people. It would dehumanize violence and boil down humans to numerical values.”