AI News, European Parliament Passes Resolution Supporting a Ban on Killer Robots

European Parliament Passes Resolution Supporting a Ban on Killer Robots

Among other things, the resolution calls on its Member States and the European Council “to develop and adopt, as a matter of urgency … a common position on lethal autonomous weapon systems that ensures meaningful human control over the critical functions of weapon systems, including during deployment.” The resolution also urges Member States and the European Council “to work towards the start of international negotiations on a legally binding instrument prohibiting lethal autonomous weapons systems.” This call for urgency comes shortly after recent United Nations talks where countries were unable to reach a consensus about whether or not to consider a ban on LAWS.

Two sections of the resolution stated: “having regard to the open letter of July 2015 signed by over 3,000 artificial intelligence and robotics researchers and that of 21 August 2017 signed by 116 founders of leading robotics and artificial intelligence companies warning about lethal autonomous weapon systems, and the letter by 240 tech organisations and 3,089 individuals pledging never to develop, produce or use lethal autonomous weapon systems,” and “whereas in August 2017, 116 founders of leading international robotics and artificial intelligence companies sent an open letter to the UN calling on governments to ‘prevent an arms race in these weapons’ and ‘to avoid the destabilising effects of these technologies.’” Toby Walsh, a prominent AI researcher who helped create the letters, said, “It’s great to see politicians listening to scientists and engineers.

The European Parliament, –  having regard to Title V, Articles 21 and 21.2(c) of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), –  having regard to the ‘Martens clause’ included in Protocol 1 of 1977 additional to the Geneva Conventions, –  having regard to Part IV of the UN 2018 Agenda for Disarmament, entitled ‘Securing Our Common Future’, –  having regard to its study of 3 May 2013 on the human rights implications of the usage of drones and unmanned robots in warfare, –  having regard to its various positions, recommendations and resolutions calling for an international ban on lethal autonomous weapon systems (LAWS), such as its recommendation to the Council of 5 July 2018 on the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly(1), the mandate to start negotiations adopted in plenary on 13 March 2018 with a view to the adoption of a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing the European Defence Industrial Development Programme, its resolution of 13 December 2017 on the Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World 2016 and the European Union’s policy on the matter(2), its recommendation to the Council of 7 July 2016 on the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly(3), and its resolution of 27 February 2014 on armed drones(4), –  having regard to the annual report of the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns, of 9 April 2013 (A/HRC/23/47), –  having regard to the EU statements on lethal autonomous weapons systems made to the Group of Governmental Experts of the parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons in Geneva, at its meetings of 13-17 November 2017, 9-13 April 2018 and 27-31 August 2018, –  having regard to the contributions made by different states, including EU Member States, prior to the 2017 and 2018 meetings of the Group of Governmental Experts, –  having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 31 May 2017 calling for a human-in-command approach to artificial intelligence and a ban on lethal autonomous weapon systems, –  having regard to the call by the Holy See for a ban on lethal autonomous weapons, –  having regard to the open letter of July 2015 signed by over 3 000 artificial intelligence and robotics researchers and that of 21 August 2017 signed by 116 founders of leading robotics and artificial intelligence companies warning about lethal autonomous weapon systems, and the letter by 240 tech organisations and 3 089 individuals pledging never to develop, produce or use lethal autonomous weapon systems, –  having regard to the statements by the International Committee of the Red Cross and to civil society initiatives such as the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, which represents 70 organisations in 30 countries, including Human Rights Watch, Article 36, PAX and Amnesty International, –  having regard to Rule 123(2) and (4) of its Rules of Procedure, A.  whereas EU policies and actions are guided by the principles of human rights and respect for human dignity, the principles of the UN Charter and international law;

News

On 11 September 2018, the European Parliament adopted a resolution calling for the elaboration of a binding international treaty to prohibit lethal autonomous weapons systems.

But the next generation of unmanned weapon systems, the so-called autonomous weapons systems or ‘killer robots’, will have on-board computers that take decisions on who to kill, and when.

He called for a moratorium on their development, based on the argument that fully autonomous weapons cannot be relied upon to meet requirements of the law of armed conflict such as proportionality, and robots cannot be held accountable for violations of the right to life.

This is an immensely complicated issue, involving on one hand the security concerns of the most powerful nations on Earth, and on the other hand the question of whether computers should hold the power of life and death over humans.

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