As killer robots continues to expand into worldwide militaries, much talk has been made of regulating the technology. From robot dogs with rifles to lock-on machine guns, military robotics is getting more dangerous, catching the attention of the United Nations.
In recent years, the UN has attempted to negotiate regulations of robotic weapons. However, the intergovernmental organisation had been unable to convince major nations to agree to tech regulations.
Killer Robot talks break down at United Nations
Reported by Aljazeera, the UN has started to tackle the issue of automated weaponry after an autonomous drone strike occurred in Libya last March. In response, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres invited all 125 UN groups to join the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.
While talks have occurred, they've started to fall through. During the sixth instance of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, Guterres was unsuccessful in securing additional talks on the subject.
While we've already reported on the United States’ unwillingness to regulate robotics, the country was not alone. In fact, the country was joined by other forces, including Russia and India, in an effort to continue autonomous weapons development.
Despite this, some UN countries are looking to fight the development of “killer robots”. Austrian and New Zealand officials both called for regulation with backing from Norway and Germany. Additionally, 64 other UN states were positive about regulations on robotic weapons.
Technology may be improving too fast
One of the issues with the United Nations’ discussions is their speed alongside the speed of advancing technology. The longer it takes to regulate robotics weapons, the better it those weapons get. As a result, those weapons become more difficult to regulate.
Speaking at the United Nations, Swiss Disarmament Ambassador Felix Baumann expressed the sentiment. He said: “At the present rate of progress, the pace of technological development risks overtaking our deliberations.” Essentially, it's now or never.
Baumann isn't the only voice to speak this way about advancing robotics. Stop Killer Robots coordinator, Richard Moyes, explained that UN states need to agree to regulate the tech before autonomous killing becomes prevalent.
“A clear majority of states see the need to ensure meaningful human control over the use of force,” he said. “It’s time now for them to lead in order to prevent the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of killer robots... [governments] need to draw a moral and legal line for humanity against the killing of people by machines.”