The UK is opposing an international ban on so-called “killer robots” at a United Nations conference that is this week examining future developments of what are officially termed lethal autonomous weapons systems (Laws).
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Experts from the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Defence are participating in the week-long session in Geneva which will consider whether increased computing power will eventually enable drones and other machines to select targets and carry out attacks without direct human intervention.
The meeting, chaired by a German diplomat, Michael Biontino, has also been asked to discuss questions such as: in what situations are distinctively human traits, such as fear, hate, sense of honour and dignity, compassion and love desirable in combat?, and in what situations do machines lacking emotions offer distinct advantages over human combatants?
The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, an alliance of human rights groups and concerned scientists, is calling for an international prohibition on fully autonomous weapons.