On Wednesday the Members of European Parliament (MEPs) passed a resolution on banning autonomous weapon systems. They emphasized that weapons like these, without proper human control over selecting and attacking targets should be banned before it is too late.
Reportedly, some countries and industries are developing lethal autonomous weapon systems, which are also known as killer robots, ranging from missiles capable of selective targeting to learning machines with cognitive skills to decide whom, when, and where to fight. These might also include armed quadcopters that can search for and eliminate people meeting certain predefined criteria.
According to the MEPs, giving machines so much power raises fundamental ethical and legal questions of human control, in particular with regard to critical functions such as target selection and engagement.
They want the EU policy chief Federica Mogherini, the member states, and the Council to agree on a common position on lethal autonomous weapon systems, which will ensure meaningful human control over their critical functions and to speak with one voice in different international forums.
Federica said during the debate at the European Parliament:
“I know this might look like a debate about some distant future or about science fiction. It’s not.”
A further discussion is scheduled at the United Nations in November, where it is hoped an agreement on an international ban can be reached.
AI is growing, and it is growing fast. It has reached to a stage where building such systems is feasible in few years and could put power in wrong hands. This needs to stop because any major military power pushes ahead with AI weapon development, a global arms race is virtually inevitable.