As Bill Clinton flies to the Middle East in the hope of effecting a truce between Israel and the Palestinians, an NGO has called for a worldwide ban on automated weapons. Human Rights Watch yesterday released a 50-page report that outlines the case against Killer Robots. Although the sharp end of defense is still at the semi-automated stage, the research arms of the various weaponry firms are looking at systems which need no human input whatsoever. This is great news for governments, who can go to war without worrying so much about their own soldiers’ loss of life, not so good for civilians caught up in the conflict.
As well as using drones, the Israelis rely on a semi-automated border patrol system, which replaces guards in situ with a weapon and camera. HRW fears that the technology is already in place to make these machines automated, meaning they can make their own decisions as to whether to take out the target or not. And how, adds the non-profit organisation, can it differentiate between an assailant holding a gun and a kid holding an ice cream?