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Killer robots are now ‘urgent threat to humanity’ and should be BANNED, shock report warns

KILLER robots pose an "urgent threat" to humanity and the world must come together to stop their development, a grim report warns.

Human rights experts say the deadly technology, which can lock onto and kill targets without human oversight, should be banned before it's too late.

2Experts want to block the creation of autonomous weapons that could lead to the creation of killer robotsCredit: Alamy

An increasing number of countries want to introduce a ban on fully autonomous weapons in order to prevent the creation of "killer robots".

The research by Human Rights Watch said 30 countries had now expressed a desire for the introduction of an international treaty which says human control must be retained over the use of force.

The new report, "Stopping Killer Robots: Country Positions on Banning Fully Autonomous Weapons and Retaining Human Control", reviews the policies of 97 countries that have publicly discussed killer robots since 2013.

Although it does not name the UK among the countries calling for an outright ban on autonomous weapons, the report says the UK policy is that there must always be "human oversight" when using such weapons.

2Killer robots would likely take the form of tanks and drones that can lock onto and kill targets without human oversightCredit: Getty Images - Getty

However, researchers note that the British military is developing some "autonomous solutions" in weapons systems.

Mary Wareham, arms division advocacy director at Human Rights Watch and coordinator of the Campaign To Stop Killer Robots, said urgent international action was needed on the issue as technology such as artificial intelligence continues to spread.

"Removing human control from the use of force is now widely regarded as a grave threat to humanity that, like climate change, deserves urgent multilateral action," she said.

"An international ban treaty is the only effective way to deal with the serious challenges raised by fully autonomous weapons."

Mary added: "It's abundantly clear that retaining meaningful human control over the use of force is an ethical imperative, a legal necessity, and a moral obligation.

"All countries need to respond with urgency by opening negotiations on a new international ban treaty."

The report suggests that while a number of international organisations and countries have backed the campaign, a small number of military powers, including the United States and Russia, have "firmly rejected proposals" around regulation.

"Many governments share the same serious concerns over permitting machines to take human life on the battlefield, and their desire for human control provides a sound basis for collective action," Ms Wareham said.

"While the pandemic has delayed diplomacy, it shows the importance of being prepared and responding with urgency to existential threats to humanity, such as killer robots."

Artificial Intelligence explained

Here's what you need to know

  • Artificial intelligence, also known as AI, is a type of computer software
  • Typically, a computer will do what you tell it to do
  • But artificial intelligence simulates the human mind, and can make its own deductions, inferences or decisions
  • A simple computer might let you set an alarm to wake you up
  • But an AI system might scan your emails, work out that you’ve got a meeting tomorrow, and then set an alarm and plan a journey for you
  • AI tech is often “trained” – which means it observes something (potentially even a human) then learns about a task over time
  • For instance, an AI system can be fed thousands of photos of human faces, then generate photos of human faces all on its own
  • Some experts have raised concerns that humans will eventually lose control of super-intelligent AI
  • But the tech world is still divided over whether or not AI tech will eventually kill us all in a Terminator-style apocalypse

Britain, the US, Russia and several other nations are all known to be creating some form of killer robot.

It's got tech boffins worried that AI will one day spell the end for the human race.

Last year, billionaire Microsoft founder Bill Gates warned that the threat AI poses to humanity is similar to that of nuclear weapons.

He said intelligent machines have the potential to both save and destroy the human race.

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In other news, criminal gangs and terrorists could one day buy killer robot assassins on the black market.

Russia says it's building a ground force of killer robots including swarms of cat-sized "bomber drones" and self-driving tanks.

Super-strong robots that "make the Terminator look puny" are already on the way.

What do you think of killer robots? Let us know in the comments!

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