The Monitor Daily (U.S.) – It is time we considered a ban on autonomous weapons, reads the conclusion of a panel discussion held under the World Economic Forum umbrella at Davos.
Led by the TIME and Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, the panel discussion reunited scientists, governments’ officials and leaders of international organizations. The debate was heated: without a standing definition of autonomous weapons or killer robots, the argument made for banning the development of artificial intelligence-backed weaponry doesn’t stand its ground.
However, according to those present, this is not the time to be tangled in the lengthy process of defining autonomous weapons. Quite to the contrary, it is time we considered a ban on autonomous weapons. Among those present at the Davos panel discussion, Sir Roger Carr (chair of BAE Systems) and Angela Kane (disarmament chief with the United Nations) raised some interesting points.
The output of the meeting, comprised in the Global Risks Report 2016, helped put things in perspective. Briefly, autonomous weapons or killer robots driven by artificial intelligence are more feasible than ever. Furthermore, they represent a challenge for the laws of war. At the same time, there is little evidence that moral and ethic could be implemented in the development of autonomous weapons.
Some argue that the moral point is sustained by the fact that instead of sending troops on the ground, killer robots would be a better fit. However, this rather emotional argument is overturned when a different question is asked. What of killer robots’ sense of responsibility, mercy and artificial intelligence removing human control?
According to Sir Roger Carr:
“If you remove ethics and judgement and morality from human endeavor whether it is in peace and war, you will take humanity to another level which is beyond our comprehension”.
During the same intervention Mr. Carr added that the global industry focusing on the development of autonomous weapons spanning global defense, aerospace and other sectors is currently estimated at 40 billion dollars. Furthermore, the market is already advanced in at least six countries, according to the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots report. The states listed for already testing or simply researching and developing autonomous weapons are the U.S., South Korea, Israel, China, the U.K. and the Russian Federation.
It was only years ago when killer robots were still touted the domain of science fiction. Their development would have come by gradually and reach a grasping point over decades. A short timeframe reduced the distant future redline to a matter of years. The threat posed by artificial intelligence backed autonomous weapons must already be addressed.
The time horizon is narrowing. Against this background further discussion are urged. In addition, it is time we considered a ban on autonomous weapons. According to the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, the ban is preemptive, while autonomous weapons are defined as systems working without human intervention to select and identify targets as well as using force against them.
Photo Credits: Wikimedia