3 Questions on Killer Robots
Fully autonomous weapons should be outlawed before they are developed, says a human-rights scholar.
Delegates to the United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons are meeting this week in Geneva to discuss fully autonomous weapons—machines that could decide to kill someone without any human input. Though this technology does not exist yet, some national-security experts say it’s plausible, given the development of “semi-autonomous” missile defense systems and unmanned aircraft that can take off, fly, and land on their own. Today a person is pushing the button when a drone fires on a target, but in the near future, nations might try to develop weapons that don’t need a human in the loop. In advance of the meeting, a group from Harvard Law School and Human Rights Watch released a report that calls for an international treaty banning these technologies as soon as possible. The report’s lead author, Bonnie Docherty, a lecturer at Harvard Law School and a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch, spoke to Mike Orcutt of MIT Technology Review.