As Canada prepares to take part in international talks on so-called “killer robots” next week, documents obtained by CBC News show defence officials see risks but also military advantages to deploying deadly autonomous weapons.

Records released under the Access to Information Act show officials at Foreign Affairs and National Defence are keeping an open mind as they carve out a Canadian position on the controversial systems — in spite of growing calls for a pre-emptive global ban.

Lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS) are not currently in use, but could eventually have the ability to select, target and engage in deadly attacks without human intervention.

Censored emails, reports and briefing papers released to CBC were prepared last spring when the first United Nations meeting was convened on the issue. One 17-page report outlines the Defence Department’s “initial thinking” on the military, strategic, diplomatic and ethical implications, flagging moral questions but also potential benefits.

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