Vatican: No to Killer Robots
Fully automated and autonomous lethal weapons systems must be banned now before they become a reality in tomorrow’s wars, a Vatican representative said.
The development of robotic weapons or “killer robots” will provide “the capacity of altering irreversibly the nature of warfare, becoming more detached from human agency, putting in question the humanity of our societies”, Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic told a group of experts at the United Nations in Geneva.
The archbishop spoke at a meeting of the parties to the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons which may be deemed to be excessively injurious or to have indiscriminate effects, held in Geneva.
The legal and ethical implications of Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS) have been discussed and on the convention’s agenda for the past five years, the archbishop said in his speech.
The International Committee of the Red Cross has defined LAWS as being “any weapon system with autonomy in its critical functions. That is, a weapon system that can search for, detect, identify, track and attack targets without human intervention.”
The first such autonomous weapon was the landmine, but rapid advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning have broadened the potential for weapons with extensive autonomy from human decision-making.
“The Holy See has expressed its concerns on several occasions” about this deadly form of weapons system, the archbishop said.
The convention’s parties “should make a courageous and enlightened decision of prohibiting LAWS like it did in the past concerning other types of weapons”, Archbishop Jurkovic said, like with the international ban on landmines and the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.—By Carol Glatz, CNS