Stop the advance of killer robots

News: Thomas Edison once said that – Someday there can be a machine or force with so much potential that can cause destruction at such a scale that can persuade a man to abandon war forever.

Recent advancements in artificial intelligence-powered weapons point out that they can be this technology.  

What are Lethal Autonomous Weapons (LAWs)? 

LAWs are AI-powered weapons. There have been reports that China has deployed machine-gun-wielding autonomous robots near the Indian border, as Himalayan heights were too cold for human soldiers to patrol 24×7. 

Houthi rebels used an autonomous armed drone to attack a Saudi Arabian target  

Why LAWs pose an existential risk to humankind? 

Experts point out that AI-powered quadcopters (commonly used drones) with explosive warheads are a possibility. Also, they could be used to attack cities and as weapons of mass destruction.  

They could be algorithmically directed to choose a certain race, gender, or particular face as their target and mount selective attacks on them.  

These technologies which are capable of doing this already exist, but had not been put together.  

Although these weapons are considered to be precise still there have been civilian causalities that occur with every ‘targeted’ drone or missile strike in Afghanistan or Iraq. 

If non-state actors and terrorist groups get hold of them, it can be catastrophic. 

What have been global regulations on LAWs? 

Artificial intelligence (AI) is the most powerful technology created by humankind and like every technology, it has great benefits but also a dark side. 

Therefore, there has been a demand to persuade world powers to impose an international legally-binding prohibition on autonomous AI-powered weapons. 

A potentially catastrophic nuclear threat has so far been averted by global regulation. Global regulations have so far been successful in regulating dangerous explosives, bio, and chemical weapons, etc. 

However, there has been no big positive development as many World power fear that other countries would take a lead over them if they dropped development work on LAWs. 

Source: This post is based on the article “Stop the advance of killer robots” published in Live Mint on 18th Feb 2022   

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