Insights November 16th, 2017
As an extension of the DARK FUTURES speaker series, Nikolas Badminton will carefully select a number of short videos by the world’s edgiest producers and share them via this site.
In Dark Futures Film Club – Slaughterbots we see a dystopian future.
Slaughterbots is a fictional short video that shows a dystopian world of ‘sniper drones’ that take out dissenters using AI-enabled targeting.
Read more and sign the petition at autonomousweapons.org
What is the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW)?
The 1980 Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) is a framework treaty that prohibits or restricts certain weapons considered to cause unnecessary or unjustifiable suffering. Its 1995 protocol banning blinding lasers is an example of a weapon being preemptively banned before it was acquired or used.
A total of 125 nations are “high contracting” or state parties to the CCW, including all five permanent members of the UN Security Council. In 2017, signatory Afghanistan ratified the CCW in August, while Lebanon ratified in April. During 2016, Côte d’Ivoire, Lesotho, and Montenegro ratified the CCW.
What are killer robots?
Killer robots are weapons systems that, once activated, would select and fire on targets without meaningful human control. They are variously termed fully autonomous weapons or lethal autonomous weapons systems.
The concern is that low-cost sensors and rapid advances in artificial intelligence are making it increasingly possible to design weapons systems that would target and attack without further human intervention. If this trend towards autonomy continues, the fear is that humans will start to fade out of the decision-making loop, first retaining only a limited oversight role, and then no role at all.
The US and others state that lethal autonomous weapon systems “do not exist” and do not encompass remotely piloted drones, precision-guided munitions, or defensive systems. Most existing weapons systems are overseen in real-time by a human operator and tend to be highly constrained in the tasks they are used for, the types of targets they attack, and the circumstances in which they are used.
While the capabilities of future technology are uncertain, there are strong reasons to believe that fully autonomous weapons could never replicate the full range of inherently human characteristics necessary to comply with international humanitarian law’s fundamental rules of distinction and proportionality. Existing mechanisms for legal accountability are ill suited and inadequate to address the unlawful harm that fully autonomous weapons would be likely to cause.