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posted by LaminatorX on Tuesday April 14 2015, @11:38AM   Printer-friendly
from the actually-taken-over-by-Cybermen dept.

The UK is opposing international efforts to ban "lethal autonomous weapons systems" (Laws) at a week-long United Nations session in Geneva:

The meeting, chaired by a German diplomat, Michael Biontino, has also been asked to discuss questions such as: in what situations are distinctively human traits, such as fear, hate, sense of honour and dignity, compassion and love desirable in combat?, and in what situations do machines lacking emotions offer distinct advantages over human combatants?

The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, an alliance of human rights groups and concerned scientists, is calling for an international prohibition on fully autonomous weapons.

Last week Human Rights Watch released a report urging the creation of a new protocol specifically aimed at outlawing Laws. Blinding laser weapons were pre-emptively outlawed in 1995 and combatant nations since 2008 have been required to remove unexploded cluster bombs.

[...] The Foreign Office told the Guardian: "At present, we do not see the need for a prohibition on the use of Laws, as international humanitarian law already provides sufficient regulation for this area. The United Kingdom is not developing lethal autonomous weapons systems, and the operation of weapons systems by the UK armed forces will always be under human oversight and control. As an indication of our commitment to this, we are focusing development efforts on remotely piloted systems rather than highly automated systems."

 
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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by pTamok on Tuesday April 14 2015, @02:22PM

    by pTamok (3042) on Tuesday April 14 2015, @02:22PM (#170396)

    Perhaps autonomous robots will be better than people at not shooting non-combatants?

    If I want to choose between taking my chances between a marine pumped up on dexedrine (or the modern equivalent), who hasn't slept for three days, with a set of buddies ready to cheer him on or cover him if something goes wrong; or a machine programmed at leisure to not kill non-combatants, I'll choose the machine, thank-you very much.

    It won't take much for machines to be so much more capable than humans that wars will be fought between machines with no human casualties (unless you are foolish enough to pick up a weapon). Then the person who controls enough machines wins.

    Of course, if auonomous robots do kill non-combatants, or commit other war crimes, who gets prosecuted?

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  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by rondon on Tuesday April 14 2015, @02:45PM

    by rondon (5167) on Tuesday April 14 2015, @02:45PM (#170405)

    I'd like to reply to your points one at a time.

    1. Possibly, except when they aren't due to malfunction, bad programming, or parameters outside the programming. So, most likely never.

    2. I will always take my chances with the human, because that human doesn't have a profit incentive with my death. It is entirely possible that the owner of people-killing machines has a vested interest in a bodycount. In fact, I would say arms manufacturers will be the ones designing these robots, and they have a consistent incentive to create and profit from war.

    3. I, personally, enjoy wielding knives to cut vegetables. I also appreciate owning a gun to shoot animals for food. In fact, I carry a tire iron that looks a lot like a club, with which I occasionally change a tire. I don't care to be a "Kill-on-sight" for a robot because I was "foolish enough to pick up a weapon."

    4. Nobody. Nobody gets prosecuted, because robots and their creators will have even more freedom from prosecution than soldiers do now. Some civil liability maybe, but no criminal liability. Otherwise they will never sell/use robots. Which is why we should push for laws assigning ALL of the liability to the parties collecting the profit.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 14 2015, @04:52PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 14 2015, @04:52PM (#170453)

      Which is why we should push for laws assigning ALL of the liability to the parties collecting the profit.

      And completely immunize the one employing the robots? No thanks.

  • (Score: 1) by t-3 on Tuesday April 14 2015, @05:55PM

    by t-3 (4907) on Tuesday April 14 2015, @05:55PM (#170470) Journal

    So you're advocating humans enslaving each other because robots make it fair? WTF??

  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by fritsd on Tuesday April 14 2015, @09:27PM

    by fritsd (4586) on Tuesday April 14 2015, @09:27PM (#170560) Journal

    Perhaps autonomous robots will be better than people at not shooting non-combatants?

    hahahahahahahahahahahahaha

    heeheehee

    yes, perhaps. That is a nice consideration.

    Now imagine the following scenario:

    Weapons factory A sells a killer robot which can make mince meat out of humans at a rate 3.06 per minute. It has a superbly advanced pattern recognition computer, which is proven to be better than people at not shooting non-combatants. Very low probability of false positives, say 1 in 200. And the price tag is $ 150 000 (hey, the software was expensive to make, and it needs a faster computer for all the processing, larger battery pack etc.)

    Weapons factory B sells a killer robot which can make mince meat out of humans at a rate 4.59 per minute. It has a superbly advanced pattern recognition computer, which is very fast at targeting and shooting, and quite good at NOT shooting non-combatants. Low probability of false positives, say 1 in 6 non-combatants are unfortunately mis-identified. And the price tag is $ 45 000.

    Which one will your government buy?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 15 2015, @03:03PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 15 2015, @03:03PM (#170987)

      The one with the most pork. Next question?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 15 2015, @04:15PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 15 2015, @04:15PM (#171038)

      Which one will your government buy?

      Which of the two companies is located in the country?