The UN is meeting in Geneva between 27 and 31 August to discuss issues related to the use of robots in modern-day warfare. Robots are basically machines that are programed to carryout predesignated activities and many countries are developing them for warfare. These are labeled as killer robots. These robots must be banned from undertaking certain tasks to ensure that human rights are not violated. Some of these that have been identified by Amnesty International are unlawful killings, and injuries “before it's too late.”

The Daily Mail UK reports that the UN must impress upon the robot designers the need to exercise restraint on the limit to which a machine can be allowed to proceed without the involvement of humans.

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This is because certain decisions on the battlefield cannot be delegated to machines.

Dangers from killer robots

Many countries have been developing robots for use in military and police operations.

These are basically automated weapons that have the ability to independently pick out and eliminate targets. This is being reexamined because humans must be responsible for taking critical decisions like the selection and engagement of targets. The meeting in Geneva will discuss various options for addressing issues that might crop up if the killer robots are given total freedom, leading to the violation of human rights.

The previous Certain Conventional Weapons CCW meeting was held in April where the majority of the member states realized the need to retain human control over the killer robots. It is necessary that humans are made responsible to identify, select and engage the targets in order to comply with International Law. Twenty-six out of the 120 countries wanted a total ban. These countries included Austria, Brazil and Egypt.

China also wanted to prohibit total reliance on fully autonomous weapon systems. However, countries that were already working on autonomous weapons systems did not want to be tied down.

Killer robots must be controlled

According to The Amnesty, it is necessary that there be international laws to control killer robots. The focus should be to restrict the use of fully autonomous weapons systems. The meeting in Geneva of will allow states to discuss various options so that killer robots do not pose any uncontrolled threat to humans. In the opinion of Rasha Abdul Rahim, an official of Amnesty International, “we are sliding towards a future where humans could be erased from decision-making around the use of force.”

The previous meeting where this was discussed was held in April 2018 and there was support to evolve a suitable mechanism for banning the use of fully autonomous weapons systems. This is because situations keep changing at the war front and robots cannot take complex decisions where emotions are involved.

Humans must have the last say.