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'Killer Robots' Decisions Are Unlawful, CCW Conference Speaker States

© Photo : US Air Force / Staff Sgt. Brian FergusonUS MQ-9 Reaper drone in flight
US MQ-9 Reaper drone in flight - Sputnik International
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The technology used in “killer robots” is not advanced enough to ensure that the autonomous weapons make the right evaluative decisions at all circumstances, required by law, thus the weapons systems must be banned, a speaker on international law at a Geneva conference told Sputnik.

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MOSCOW (Sputnik), Anastasia Levchenko – On Monday, more than 40 experts from the UN's Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) started a marathon meeting at the United Nations in Geneva to debate questions concerning Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS), or "killer robots," to determine whether LAWS should be allowed in certain capacities or banned altogether.

On Friday, the last day of the CCW conference, one of the conference speakers told Sputnik:

“There are many complicated prohibitions and restrictions on the use of certain weapon technologies, but there is no rule specifically dealing with autonomy in attack. However, if you are taking the human being out of attack decision making, then when a state is undertaking one of these weapons reviews, the question the reviewing state will need to pose is whether this system is capable of being used in compliance with targeting law.”

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The targeting law includes requirements for precautions to be taken in attacks, the prohibition of indiscriminate attacks and the proportionality rule. The speaker stressed that a machine is highly unlikely to successfully distinguish between a peaceful civilian and a member of the armed forces 100 percent of the time.

The speaker underscored that “killer robots” are bound to fail the state weapon review required by article 36 of Additional Protocol I:

“What I was trying to explain to them in the CCW Conference is that the targeting law involves the whole series of evaluative decisions, which at the moment the current level of autonomous technology is not capable of undertaking.”

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On Tuesday, Thomas Nash, one of the participants in the Geneva conference on LAWS told Sputnik that the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Israel appear to be opposing a ban on fully autonomous weapons, despite an array of safety and ethical concerns that “killer robots” have raised.

LAWS, or “killer robots” are defined as weapon systems designed and built to select and fire upon targets without human intervention.

Steve Goose, Director of the Arms Division at the Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Co-founder of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, told Sputnik on Wednesday that LAWS are unlikely to comply with the basic requirements of international humanitarian law or international human rights law, which demand human judgment in making combat attack decisions.

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