April 24, 2015

Battle lines drawn around the legality of ‘killer robots’

Featuring Michael Horowitz, and Paul Scharre

The future of lethal autonomous weapon systems (LAWS) – often referred to in the popular press as “killer robots” – remains uncertain following a week-long meeting in Geneva todiscuss their legality.

While the LAWS debate in Geneva was deeper and richer than previous discussions, key definitions – which are needed to word a protocol to restrict them – remain unclear and up for continued debate.

And with nations like the United Kingdom openly opposed to a ban, a protocol may end up being blocked entirely, much to to the chagrin of activists.

The British say existing international humanitarian law (IHL) is sufficient to regulate LAWS. While there was universal agreement among delegations that key IHL principles such as distinctionproportionality and precautions in attack apply to LAWS, there were sharp differences of opinion as to whether machines can be programmed to observe such distinctions.

Read the full article at The Conversation.

  • Michael Horowitz

    Adjunct Senior Fellow, Technology and National Security Program

    Michael C. Horowitz is a professor of political science and the associate director of Perry World House at the University of Pennsylvania. He is also an adjunct senior fellow ...

  • Paul Scharre

    Senior Fellow and Director, Technology and National Security Program

    Paul Scharre is a Senior Fellow and Director of the Technology and National Security Program at the Center for a New American Security. He is author of the forthcoming book, A...