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© victor-habbick-dreamstime.com General | June 03, 2013

Ban on killer robots - soon a reality?

With the progress of technology and robotics, the inevitable military usage is sure to follow. Now, the UN have decided to put their foot down.
Killer robots, that can identify and kill humans in a war situation, are no longer part of science fiction. Several research programs focusing on high technology tools of war are under development in the U.S, Great Britain, Israel and South Korea.

The concerns about this particular development were presented by rapporteur Christof Heyns in May.

The robots still only exist on the drawing board and it will likely take many years for them to see the light of day. But the fact that the intended robots are fully autonomous is what causes the UN to react. Several newspapers report that the UN will likely enforce a ban on this kind of technology, following the moral dilemmas presented. The decision of killing or not killing a human being is no longer being made by another person, but by a program. This separates the LAR-systems (Lethal Autonomous Robotics) from today's drone usage.

Many moral issues are thus raised: Will the robots be able to distinguish between friend or foe? Can a robot feel compassion towards a human being? Who is responsible in case of malfunction (the manufacturer or the countries using the system)?

Supporters of the projects argue that the robots will limit casualties in war times and that research should therefore continue.

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