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Battlefield ‘killer robots’ almost a reality, campaigners warn

A human rights agency has raised concerns about the advent of “killer robots”, capable of selecting and killing targets autonomously.

“Lethal armed robots that could target and kill without any human intervention should never be built,” said Steve Goose, Arms Division director at Human Rights Watch. “A human should always be ‘in-the-loop’ when decisions are made on the battlefield. Killer robots would cross moral and legal boundaries, and should be rejected as repugnant to the public conscience.”

The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, spearheaded by the New York-based Human Rights Watch, is calling for an international treaty to bring in a “pre-emptive and comprehensive ban on fully autonomous weapons.”

Since the start of the “War on Terror” following the September 11 attacks in 2001, the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, has increased dramatically.

According to Human Rights Watch “rapid advances in technology are permitting the United States and other nations with high-tech militaries, including China, Israel, Russia, and the United Kingdom, to move toward systems that would provide greater combat autonomy to machines.

“If one or more country chooses to deploy fully autonomous weapons, others may feel compelled to abandon policies of restraint, leading to a robotic arms race.”

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