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ICRAC and the responsible robotics revolution

ICRAC works for the regulation of robotic weapon systems and is committed to the peaceful use of robotic technology. To further pursue this latter goal, ICRAC’s Noel Sharkey co-founded the Foundation for Responsible Robotics. In a recently published piece on Research Fortnight, Sharkey and Aimee van Wynsberghe write: The robotics revolution will have a disruptive […]

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Icelandic research institute shuns autonomous weapons

The Icelandic Institute for Intelligent Machines (IIIM) has issued an ethical policy that makes them the first Artificial Intelligence research and development group to reject the development of technologies intended for military operations. IIIM is an independent research institute affiliated with Reykjavik University in Reykjavik, Iceland “It is only fitting that a research center in Iceland […]

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Model United Nations Urges Ban on Killer Robots

UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon “energized” by students’ “serious discussions” on autonomous weapons systems   In less than two weeks, diplomats from around the world will gather at the United Nations in Geneva to discuss potential global regulations on “lethal autonomous weapons systems” that would be able to select and attack targets without direct human control. […]

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Our robotic future: The hopes and worries of 10 year old Bethany

Ten year old Bethany Clifford-Tait is concerned about a future that includes autonomous weapons systems aka ‘killer robots’. Such were her worries that she wrote to the producers of the oldest and most popular BBC children’s programme Blue Peter to ask them to spread the word to other children across the country in one of […]

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ICRAC welcomes UN CCW decision for 2015 Expert Meeting on LAWS

ICRAC welcomes the decision by the 2014 UN CCW High Contracting Parties Meeting to keep discussing “lethal autonomous weapon systems” (LAWS). From the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots Website: The decision is an important acknowledgement of the legal, technical, ethical, operational, and societal concerns that have been raised. The broad consensus expressed for continuing the talks shows […]

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Canada’s leading robot company rejects ‘killer robots’ — updated!

Hi-Tech Canadian Robotics company, Clearpath, today issued a statement pledging not to manufacture autonomous weapons systems despite their commercial advantage and they urged other companies to follow suit: “those who might see business opportunities in this technology to seek other ways to apply their skills and resources for the betterment of humankind.” ICRAC applauds the […]

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Is Russia Leading the World to Autonomous Weapons?

This is a guest post by Mark Gubrud (@mgubrud). The short answer is no. But Russia is testing and may deploy at its ICBM bases a lethal mobile system which has “automatic and semi-automatic control modes.” Additionally, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin has recently called for “robotic systems that are fully integrated in the command […]

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ICRAC Delivers Statement to States Parties to the Convention on Conventional Weapons at the UN in Geneva

International Community Must Act Now to Ensure Combat Will Never Be Outsourced to “Killer Robots”! — I am speaking on behalf of the International Committee for Robot Arms Control (ICRAC), a founding NGO member of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots. Since its establishment in 2009, ICRAC has urged the international community to discuss the […]

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News Roundup: Banning Lethal Autonomous Robots

Over the last couple of months, lethal autonomous robots (LARs) went from a sidelined issue to not only a hotly and widely debated topic but most importantly an official item of United Nations (UN) arms control diplomacy. This post provides an overview over recent media coverage as well as events and statements given at the UN. The […]

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Computing experts from 37 countries call for ban on killer robots

Decision to apply violent force must not be delegated to machines! More than 270 engineers, computing and artificial intelligence experts, roboticists, and professionals from related disciplines are calling for a ban on the development and deployment of weapon systems that make the decision to apply violent force autonomously, without any human control. In a statement […]

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A meme is born: autonomous = secure

This is a guest post by Mark Gubrud (@mgubrud). One of Joshua Foust’s assertions in his debate with Heather Roff was that making weapons autonomous was necessary in order to secure them against the threat of hacking. I posted a response after Foust reiterated this surprising argument in an article which seems to have gone semi-viral on the […]

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Engineers strongly favour a total ban on killer robots

Following on from my recent article in The Engineer magazine asking engineers to say “no” to killer robots, they conducted a poll to find out what engineers thought. They wanted to know if they supported our campaign to ban killer robots. We at ICRAC, with a number of other NGOs, are calling for a new […]

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Death by algorithm is the ultimate indignity says 2 star general

Former Majory General Robert H. Latiff (and Patrick J. McCloskey) has stood up to be counted against the coming autonomous lethal robots. Latiff and McCloskey point out the military benefits of the autonomous machines and then comes the but… The problem is that robotic weapons eventually will make kill decisions on the battlefield with no […]

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Smart Robots? Perhaps not smart enough to be called stupid.

The New York Times has entered the discussion about the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots. Columnist Bill Keller has produced a well balanced article that looks at the pros and cons of a ban. For the ban, he notes that The arguments against developing fully autonomous weapons, as they are called, range from moral (“they […]

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If Big Dog is a supply robot, then why is it throwing concrete blocks?

The impressive ‘big dog’ robot by Boston Dynamics was ostensibly designed as a robust mule to carry supplies to the front line without putting soldiers in danger. So why then, have robot grippers been added so that it can throw concrete blocks for some distance? It’s not for shelf stacking – that’s for sure.

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Obama administration admits that drone confrontations could unintentionally trigger hostilities

CNN yesterday reported a confrontation between an Iranian F-4 fighter jet and a predator drone.  But given the November 2012 incident between Iranian fighter jets and a predator, the drones are now routinely accompanied by US military planes. The Iranian F-4 turned away after a verbal warning was issued by one of two US fighter […]

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US can’t make up its mind about the medal of droner

Before he retired from his job as US Secretary of defence, Leon Panetta announced a new ‘distinguished warfare medal to be given to drone pilots who sit thousand miles away from the action. This upset many service people and their families because it has a higher ranking than the ‘bronze star’. The bronze star has […]

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No room for the buzzing of the drones on the big rock candy mountain

An article in yesterdays Globe and Mail (Canada) emphasized the psychological impact of drone strikes combined with noisy surveillance. Something that is often overlooked is the impact on civilians of the constant buzzing of drones overhead. They may be mainly used  for surveillance but even the occasional strike means that no one knows if the […]

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A call for engineers to stop autonomous killing machines now.

In this month’s ‘The Engineer’, a magazine for engineers, I published an article calling upon engineers to help with a ban on autonomous lethal weapons. They titled my article “say no to killer robots” which was more direct than my own title of “stop autonomous killing machines now”. “This is a call to engineers to […]

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If the US president can order the assassination of Americans overseas, what are the limits to his power?

An article published in the New York Times (March 9 2013) gives great insight into the targeting of US citizens abroad. For the first time we get details of intelligence gathering and the enormous resources that the CIA used to track down and kill US citizen Anwar al-Awlaki. The article talks about one bungled attempt […]

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Job adverts point to the US planning drone strikes controlled from the UK

The Mail on Sunday has found two job adverts from the US Air Force asking for a communication systems administrator analyst and a systems administrator with operational experience with Predator Drones. Nothing odd about this until you find out that they are to work at RAF Waddington in the UK – ouch! The adverts say […]

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Code Pink brings chocolates and flowers to the tea party.

When drone extremist John Brennan’s appointment to Chief of the CIA was delayed by 13 hours by filibuster, Senator Paul Rand, accolades came from an unexpected source. As pointed out by the New York Times, ‘In Washington, Code Pink, a leftist group of antiwar activists, showed up with flowers and chocolates at Mr. Paul’s Senate […]

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Robot warriors: Lethal machines coming of age

The BBC News Magazine published an article that pits Nobel Peace Laureate Jody Williams and Peter “Wired for War” Singer against Henric Christensen and Ron Arkin from Georgia Institute of Technology. Henrick Christensen’s project funded by defence contractor BAE systems is used as an example of how autonomous robots may be used in conflict. The […]

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Killer robots must be stopped, say campaigners

The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots was announced by Tracy McVeigh in the Sunday Newspaper the Observer on 24th February. This has created large positive media interest ahead of our the campaign to be launched in April this year. From the Observer: “Killer robots must be stopped, say campaigners A new global campaign to persuade […]

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DoD Directive on Autonomy in Weapon Systems

This is a guest post by Mark Gubrud (@mgubrud). On Nov. 21, as news of Human Rights Watch’s (HRW) “Losing Humanity” report was spreading, the Department of Defense quietly released Directive 3000.09 “for the development and use of autonomous and semi-autonomous functions in weapon systems”, making the United States the first nation to have an […]

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