United Nations wants new rules for lethal autonomous weapons (LAWS)


If you think we’re far off from lethal autonomous weapons or LAWS for short, you would be wrong. LAWS are already in use in the form of drones, bomb robots, and probably a lot more we’re not privy to. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for new rules that would cover LAWS and their use.

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Reuters reports that United Nations negotiators have been in talks for eight years over limiting the use of autonomous weapons. These LAWS are fully machined controlled and use artificial intelligence and facial recognition.

But pressure has increased in part due to a U.N. panel report in March that said the first autonomous drone attack may have already occurred in Libya.

“I encourage the Review Conference to agree on an ambitious plan for the future to establish restrictions on the use of certain types of autonomous weapons,” Guterres said at the start of the five-day talks.

The Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons has 125 parties including the United States, China and Israel.

Some participating states such as Austria call for a total ban on LAWS while others including Washington have been more reticent and have pointed to potential benefits of such weapons which might be more precise than humans in hitting targets.

Amnesty International and civil society groups are calling for countries to start negotiating an international treaty and will present a petition to negotiators later on Monday.

“The pace of technology is really beginning to outpace the rate of diplomatic talks,” said Clare Conboy of Stop Killer Robots. “(This) is a historic opportunity for states to take steps to safeguard humanity against autonomy in the use of force.”


While we’re still a ways off from seeing Terminators walking around, we’re probably closer to that reality than we think.

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