Blog Archives

A New Mandate and a New Video

Today at the UN in Geneva, states approved a new mandate for further discussions about autonomous weapons systems in 2015.  To celebrate, we are pleased to share our new video on why we need to Keep Killer Robots Fiction.

Remember, students you can make your own killer robots video in our film contest.

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New Video on Human Control

This week states are meeting at the United Nations in Geneva to decide if discussion on lethal autonomous weapons systems will continue at the Convention on Conventional Weapons.  States should continue to discuss this issue and to debate key problems with autonomous weapons systems.  One of the key problems is the issue of human control.  Learn more with this new video.

 

New Video on Proportionality

Proportionality is a key term for international humanitarian law that means any collateral damage must be proportional to the military gain from any action.  We are very concerned that fully autonomous weapons systems or killer robots won’t be able to weigh proportionality.

 

Canadian Robotics Firm Takes Stand against Killer Robots

Great news!  Today, Clearpath Robotics, a robotics firm based in Kitchener, Ontario, announced a world leading policy to “not manufacture weaponized robots that remove humans from the loop” and pledged their support for the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots. In an open letter, Ryan Gariepy, Co-Founder and CTO, writes that “[d]espite our continued involvement with Canadian and international military research and development, Clearpath Robotics believes that the development of killer robots is unwise, unethical, and should be banned on an international scale.”

As a co-founder and the Canadian representatives of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, Mines Action Canada welcomes Clearpath Robotics’ decision and applauds their staff for their thoughtful and courageous stance on this issue.  “Clearpath Robotics has set the ethical standard for robotics companies around the world.  Their pledge to not manufacture autonomous weapons systems demonstrates clearly that research and development into autonomous robots and military robots does not require the creation of ‘killer robots’ and that there are many applications of autonomous robotics that can benefit humanity,” said Paul Hannon, Executive Director, Mines Action Canada. “As Canadian, I am proud that a Canadian company was the first in the world to pledge to not manufacture killer robots.”

As the international community is scheduled to discuss autonomous weapons systems at the United Nations again this fall, Mines Action Canada strongly supports Clearpath Robotics’ pledge and we join them in encouraging “those who might see business opportunities in this technology to seek other ways to apply their skills and resources for the betterment of humankind.” We look forward to similar statements from other robotics companies in Canada and around the world.  Members of the public who share Clearpath Robotics’ views can sign the Keep Killer Robots Fiction petition at http://bit.ly/KRpetition while individual roboticists and scientists can join the International Committee for Robot Arms Control’s Scientists’ Call online at: http://icrac.net/call/.

Learn more about Clearpath Robotics on Twitter or Facebook.

UK Parliament Debates Fully Autonomous Weapons

Last month at the United Nations Human Rights Council, we were slightly concerned when the UK was the only state opposed to a moratorium or a ban on fully autonomous weapons.  After a parliamentary debate on June 17, 2013, we have a little more clarity.  In response to a speech by Nia Griffith, MP, the Minister for Counter Proliferation, Alistair Burt MP, agreed that fully autonomous weapons will not “be able to meet the requirements of international humanitarian law” and stressed that the UK does not have fully autonomous weapons and does not plan to acquire any.

Our colleagues at Article 36 have done a detailed analysis of the debate.  In light of the stronger language in this debate, there is some room to optimistic

It would seem straightforward to move from such a strong national position to a formalised national moratorium and a leading role within an international process to prohibit such weapons. The government did not provide any reason as to why a moratorium would be inappropriate, other than to speculate on the level of support amongst other countries for such a course of action.

Whilst significant issues still require more detailed elaboration, Article 36 believes this parliamentary debate has been very valuable in prompting reflection and Ministerial scrutiny of UK policy on fully autonomous weapons and narrowing down the areas on which further discussions should focus. It appears clear now that there will be scope for such discussions to take place with the UK and other states in the near future.

The UK parliamentary debate and Article 36’s analysis of it, coming so soon after the Human Rights Council debate and the widespread media coverage of the issue make it quite clear that it is time to have such a substantive and non-partisan debate in the Canadian House of Commons as the government works out its policy on this important issue.