Scientists call for prohibition of “killer robots” in open letter
Wednesday, 06 December 2017
A few hours before a parliamentary session, 88 Belgian scientists called for a national prohibition by the federal government on “killer robots”. The researchers in robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) have requested that Belgium joins the international movement to ban these machines.
Today, parliament is holding a session on “killer robots”, in relation to which there is a resolution calling for the prohibition of these completely autonomous weapons. “Killer robots” are indeed capable of choosing their targets and of attacking them “without significant control by a human”. This is explained in the communiqué relating to the open letter by the scientists.
The 88 signatories are strong proponents of the fact that the development of such armed systems seriously threatens both international law and human rights. Resorting to these weapons will indeed make the outbreak of a war more likely, whilst an armed conflict could take on proportions not yet seen.
The researchers also warn against an arms race and conflict escalation that these robots may feed. The “killer machines”, moreover, pose the question as to human responsibility in the event that such robots get out of control.
The Belgian initiative echos similar actions conducted in Canada and Australia. In July 2015, more than 3,000 scientists had already called for the prohibition of entirely autonomous weapons. In August 2016, 116 directors of robotics and AI companies, amongst them Elon Musk (of SpaceX, Tesla, PayPal and other companies), said that they were against “killer robots”.