Killer robots have uncertain future: world debates ethics

DARPA robots are perhaps the most notable robotic machines in present times, hinting at a future where humans use mechanical creations to accomplish all sorts of tasks — including killing. Lethal autonomous robots have been a subject of debate since their first conception, and could end up banned before the first one is ever made.

The UN held an informal meeting today to discus the topic of autonomous killing robots, something that will span until May 16th later this week. Such was spurred on by an international coalition called The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, a collective that voices concerns over a future where machines can kill on their own.

At the heart of the matter is whether robots should be sent forth to make lethal decisions without the oversight of a human to judge whether the action the robot would take is acceptable. One example detailed by Foreign Affairs concerns the use of lethal force near a school, a situation in which a robot — at least for the foreseeable future — would not have the capacity to discern the possible consequence of its action.

Robots have their benefits, however, among them being a potential decrease in soldier deaths due to the use of a machine in dangerous situation. Critics want a ban in place that would prevent the use of lethal autonomous robots, but not necessarily the ban of lethal robots in general; rather, the goal is to require human oversight to make judgment calls and decisions a machine doesn't have the capacity to make.

SOURCE: Washington Post