Ban 'killer robots,' rights group urges
NEW YORK (AFP) - Hollywood-style robots able to shoot people without permission from their human handlers are a real possibility and must be banned before governments start deploying them, Human Rights Watch warned on Monday.
The report "Losing Humanity" - co-produced by Harvard Law School's International Human Rights Clinic - also raises the alarm over the ethics of the looming technology. Calling them "killer robots," it urges "an international treaty that would absolutely prohibit the development, production, and use of fully autonomous weapons."
The US military already leads the way in military robots, notably the unmanned aircraft or drones used for surveillance or attacks over Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and elsewhere. But these are controlled by human operators in ground bases and are not able to kill without authorisation.
Fully autonomous robots that decide for themselves when to fire could be developed within 20 to 30 years, or "even sooner," the 50-page report said, adding that weapon systems that require little human intervention already exist.