“Despite the limits imposed by physics, one can expect platforms deployed in the millions, the agility and lethality of which will leave humans utterly defenceless. This is not a desirable future.” Russell stated.
The United Nations agrees with Russell, and last year, called for a global ban on the devices, stating that the development could have “terrifying” consequences.
"LAWS could violate fundamental principles of human dignity by allowing machines to choose whom to kill — for example, they might be tasked to eliminate anyone exhibiting ‘threatening behaviour’” Russell further explained.
“Technologies have reached a point at which the deployment of such systems is — practically if not legally — feasible within years, not decades. The stakes are high: LAWS have been described as the third revolution in warfare, after gunpowder and nuclear arms.”
LAWS are expected to be drones that can make decisions on who should be killed without requiring any human interaction, and DARPA currently has two different projects in the works which could lead to these deadly machines becoming a reality.
The first, called Fast Lightweight Army (FLA) will be tiny and able to buzz around inside of buildings and complex urban areas at high speeds. The second is called the Collaborative Operations in Denied Environment (CODE), which intends to create teams of drones which are capable of carrying out a strike mission- even if contact with the humans controlling them is lost.
Jody Williams, an American political activist who won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 for her work banning anti-personnel landmines, has also been an outspoken activist against DARPA’s love affair with artificial intelligence and robots, with her Campaign to Stop Killer Robots.
“Autonomous robots would lack human judgment and the ability to understand context. These qualities are necessary to make complex ethical choices on a dynamic battlefield, to distinguish adequately between soldiers and civilians, and to evaluate the proportionality of an attack. As a result, fully autonomous weapons would not meet the requirements of the laws of war.” the campaigns website reads.
The Army has already weaponized bomb disposal robots, which leads many to believe that robots such as Atlas, which was developed by Boston Dynamics, in a humanoid form- allegedly for disaster relief, will be weaponized as well.
“The United States has not met anything in its military arsenal that it did not want to weaponize, so to say that you have this 6’6 robot who they are working feverishly to make more mobile, to not be still tethered to a cord, etc, etc- you're going to tell me that they aren't going to put machine guns on that guy and send him into urban warfare?” Williams told Motherboard last month. “I want to know how they can convince themselves that might be true- and when I’m in a real bad mood, I want to know how they can look you in the face and lie.”