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Exterminate, exterminate

Could time be up for killer robots even before they become a reality? Richard Easton considers the legal consequences of lethal autonomous weapons systems

5 May 2015

In his 1942 short story Runaround, sci-fi master Isaac Asimov proposed
the 'Three Laws of Robotics'. The Three Laws are now a standard feature of fictional androids' programming. But should the first of Asmiov's Three Laws, that 'a robot may not injure a human being', be enshrined in international humanitarian law?

Killer robots

'Yes,' says Human Rights Watch in its April report on the military use of robots, 'Mind the gap: The lack of accountability for killer robots'.

If robotics continues to develop apace, lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS) - 'killer robots' able to sense, select, and engage targets without human input or supervision - will stalk the battlefields of the future. With faster-than-human reactions, LAWS would allow powerful states with 'casualty-avers...

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