Feeds

UN report says killer bots could fight WAR WITHOUT END

Moratorium proposed on development and use of lethal autonomous robots

New hybrid storage solutions

The United Nations has called for the establishment of an international body to set guidelines for the development and use of lethal autonomous robotics (LARs), lest such machines go on a never-ending killing spree that plunges humanity into perpetual war.

Judge for yourself if we're being colourful or exaggerating by reading the Report of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns (PDF), the subject of this story.

Tabled yesterday at a meeting of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the document says “LARs refers to robotic weapon systems that, once activated, can select and engage targets without further intervention by a human operator. The important element is that the robot has an autonomous 'choice' regarding selection of a target and the use of lethal force.”

Such weapons aren't yet in operation, the report says - though that would seem to be an odd view to take.

Among those devices are “The Samsung Techwin surveillance and security guard robots, deployed in the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea, detect targets through infrared sensors” and can be set to “automatic mode”. Now we know where all that hand-and-eyeball-movement-detection software in the Galaxy S 4 came from.

The report worries that it won't be long before LARs become prevalent, as waging war without putting one's own troops in harm's way will be very attractive to strategists and could therefore lead to the following scenario:

“Tireless war machines, ready for deployment at the push of a button, pose the danger of permanent (if low-level) armed conflict, obviating the opportunity for post-war reconstruction.”

The report does also point out that LARs might make war a little less uncivilised, as they “would not act out of revenge, panic, anger, spite, prejudice or fear.” Nor would robots torture, unless programmed to, or rape.

Those observations are among the few upsides identified in the report, which finds that LARs are not compatible with international humanitarian or human rights laws and therefore makes the following recommendation:

“The Human Rights Council should call on all States to declare and implement national moratoria on at least the testing, production, assembly, transfer, acquisition, deployment and use of LARs until such time as an internationally agreed upon framework on the future of LARs has been established.”

That council is meeting from now until June 14th and has discussed the report, but is yet to vote on it or agree to its recommendations at the time of writing. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Net neutrality protestors slam the brakes on their OWN websites
Sites link up to protest slow lanes by bogging down pages
Italy's High Court orders HP to refund punter for putting Windows on PC
Top beaks slam bundled OS as 'commercial policy of forced distribution'
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
Uber alles-holes, claims lawsuit: Taxi biz sued by blind passengers
Sueball claims blind passengers ditched, guide dogs abused
Show us your Five-Eyes SECRETS says Privacy International
Refusal to disclose GCHQ canteen menus and prices triggers Euro Human Rights Court action
Heavy VPN users are probably pirates, says BBC
And ISPs should nab 'em on our behalf
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.