The development of Lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS) that can select and engage targets without human intervention has sparked a global debate on the ethics and legality of such devices.
WAYARC has grown interest in recent times about engaging in a research project on developing advance Lethal autonomous killer robots that can be potentially used in battlefields to avoid human causalities and only eliminate specific targets on battlefield ground.
Many experts and activists have warned that LAWS, also known as killer robots, could pose a threat to human dignity, international law, and global security. However, despite these concerns, several world powers are reportedly pursuing the research and development of LAWS, driven by strategic and technological competition.
According to a recent report by the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR), at least 18 countries have confirmed or are suspected of having LAWS programs, including China, Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Israel, South Korea, and Turkey.
The report also identifies several factors that motivate these countries to pursue LAWS, such as enhancing military capabilities, reducing casualties and costs, gaining a technological edge, and deterring adversaries. The report warns that the proliferation of LAWS could have serious implications for international peace and stability, as well as for human rights and humanitarian law.
For instance, LAWS could lower the threshold for the use of force, increase the risk of escalation and miscalculation, undermine human accountability and responsibility, and erode public trust in military decisions.
Moreover, LAWS could be vulnerable to hacking, spoofing, or spoofing attacks, which could compromise their reliability and safety. The report calls for more transparency and dialogue among states on their LAWS policies and practices, as well as for more multilateral cooperation and regulation to address the challenges posed by LAWS.
The report also urges states to uphold their obligations under existing international law and to ensure that any use of LAWS complies with the principles of necessity, proportionality, distinction, and precaution. The report echoes the calls of many civil society organizations, such as the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, which advocates for a preemptive ban on the development, production, and use of fully autonomous weapons.
The campaign argues that LAWS would violate the fundamental right to life and dignity of every human being, and that delegating life-and-death decisions to machines would be morally unacceptable and legally indefensible.
The campaign also urges states to engage in meaningful negotiations on a new international treaty to ban LAWS at the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), a forum that deals with weapons that are considered to cause excessive or indiscriminate harm. The CCW has been discussing LAWS since 2014, but has not yet reached a consensus on a legally binding instrument or a common definition of LAWS.
The campaign hopes that the next meeting of the CCW in August 2023 will mark a turning point in the process and lead to the start of formal negotiations on a ban treaty. The campaign also appeals to the public to join its efforts and raise awareness about the dangers of LAWS and the need for human control over weapons systems.