The “Campaign To Stop Killer Robots” Is Not A Joke

My friends at TechHive have taken note of a new campaign from Human Rights Watch: “On Tuesday, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) launched its official Campaign to Stop Killer Robots. Yes, that’s what it’s really called. No, it’s not a joke. And it’s not just a campaign to stop would-be Terminators, either. The campaign is an initiative backed by five international non-government organizations to stop the development of fully autonomous weapons, and to question our current use of drone warfare.”

Under a somewhat loose definition of the term, the drones you hear about all the time on the news are “killer robots.” They’re unmanned machines that can be used to fire missiles and alleged bad guys. While that’s a concern for Human Rights Watch, the organization seems to be more concerned with the next step—creating machines that decide whether or not to kill, instead of requiring that humans make the ultimate decision to pull a trigger or fire a missile. It’s autonomous killer robots that raise ethical concerns.

HRW says in its press release: “The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots believes that humans should not delegate the responsibility of making lethal decisions to machines. It has multiple moral, legal, technical, and policy concerns with the prospect of fully autonomous weapon.”

In other words: Welcome to the future. It’s not as shiny as you thought it would be, is it?