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."
Perhaps autonomous robots will be better than people at not shooting non-combatants?
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?
The one with the most pork. Next question?
Which of the two companies is located in the country?