UN debates future ban on killer robots

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 13, 2014 at 9:21 am •  Published: May 13, 2014
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GENEVA (AP) — Diplomats urged the adoption of new international laws Tuesday that could govern or outright forbid the use of killer robots if the technology becomes reality someday.

At the first United Nations meeting devoted to the subject, representatives began trying to define the limits and responsibilities of so-called lethal autonomous weapons systems that could go beyond human-directed drones already being used by some armies today.

"All too often international law only responds to atrocities and suffering once it has happened," Michael Moeller, acting head of the U.N.'s European headquarters in Geneva, told diplomats at the start of the four-day gathering. "You have the opportunity to take pre-emptive action and ensure that the ultimate decision to end life remains firmly under human control."

He noted that the U.N. treaty they were meeting to discuss — the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons adopted by 117 nations including the world's major powers — was used before to prohibit the use of blinding laser weapons in the 1990s before they were ever deployed on the battlefield, and this "serves as an example to be followed again."

His proposal echoes calls by groups such as the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots and Humans Rights Watch, which want an international ban on Terminator-style machines before they can ever be activated.

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