“Killer Robots” are banned, says UN Geneva Convention

July 6, 2018

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Those last years, a rising concern has grown among the society regarding the ban of AI Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWs), populary called “Killer Robots”. Several open letters have been signed by thousands of AI researchers and others individuals, including Elon Musk or Stephen Hawking, to warn Humanity about the risks of such massive self-driving weapons.

 

The UN in Geneva has started the process to create a ban of “Killers Robots”. According to Toby Walsch, AI Professor in Australia, the talks were progressing “very slowly”... When the time left to take such a decision is in years, not in decades, the main problem is not if a “ban” is a desirable option, but how long it will take to have it in place.

 

My plan is not to let part of the humanity at risk while the other is at threat, this for some bureaucracy bottlenecks. A wide spreaded international ban already exists since 1997. Not only with the international UN Geneva Convention to prohibit the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel mines, but with Protocol II of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) too.

 

The UN defines a “mine” as “a munition designed to be exploded by the presence of a person or a vehicle and that will incapacitate, injure or kill one or more persons”. That sounds much like a Killer Robot. Seen from the other side, according to the definition of a US Army 2012 directive, an “autonomous weapon system” is one “that, once activated, can select and engage targets without further intervention by a human operator”. Exactly the description of a landmine.

 

Mines are not less than autonomous weapons. Autonomous weapons are not more than improved mines. Within a century, just for landmines, we have been through the wide damages on innocents, and the decades process to turn back. If the use of anti-personal mines by States is almost a thing from the past, even more so for any sophisticated version. Modern autonomous weapons are just moving mines with multiples explosions abilities. Period.

 

Why wouldn't any such weapons be banned according to the UN Convention ? For what reason would anyone willing just to produce such systems not been internationally spotted for his willful misconduct ? How can such international Convention and Protocol be denied without any pressure nor any little sanction ?

 

The real problem maybe not to get a ban, but to have the existing one being applied. Mines are Killer Robots, they are widely banned, and so does any further version. Worse than a Killer Robot is maybe a crippling bureaucracy. Like very often, some solutions are at arm length; it holds on us to gather them and make a use of. It's time.

 

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