The Politics of Killer Robots: Experts Consider Political, Legal and Ethical Implications of Drones and Other Robotic Weapons at Pace University Symposium

Not all conduct is justified in war. Centuries of tradition – from religious texts to chivalry and honor codes to modern international humanitarian and human rights law – have limited what weapons armed groups can use, who and what they can target and where and when they may fight. Each new innovation in military technologies […]

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Everyone is a target

A new short documentary (8 minutes) by Amy Kohn – Autonomous Weapons: everyone is a target – features members of ICRAC giving the reason why we need to move forward with an international legally binding treaty to prohibit research, use and development of autonomous weapons – weapons that once activated can select targets and kill […]

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X-47B “autonomously” aborts aircraft carrier landing

After already having demonstrated the ability to take off from an aircraft carrier deck earlier this year, this week the Navy’s X47B technology demonstrator drone also managed to successfully complete a landing maneuver for the first time. However, what is most interesting about this is that, after having completed two landings, the drone, while coming […]

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Meet ATLAS

Developed for DARPA by Boston Dynamics. For disaster response purposes only? Hmm…

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Foust’s case for killer robots engaged: Autonomous weapons are no phantom menace

This is a guest post by Mark Gubrud (@mgubrud). ForeignPolicy.com blogger Joshua Foust announced on May 14 that he’d identified a “liberal” case for killer robots, including the seemingly incompatible assessments that they could “do it better”, where “it” means make the decision to kill, and that they are but a “phantom” (therefore not demanding of […]

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ICRAC Working Paper Series launched

Today, ICRAC launches its new series of working papers. In ICRAC Working Paper #2 (#1 is to follow suit in the near future, UPDATE: it is now available), Mark Gubrud and Juergen Altmann present “Compliance Measures for an Autonomous Weapons Convention”, inter alia containing a first conceptual sketch about how to implement technical verification measures […]

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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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The Role of ICRAC in the Arms Trade Treaty Negotiations

Last week the United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to adopt the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), which will aim to constrain the flow of conventional weapons to states and organizations that threaten peace and security or engage in gross violations of human rights and humanitarian law. Several members of the International Committee for Robot Arms […]

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Arms Control for Uninhabited Vehicles: A Detailed Study

In a detailed scientific article just published online, physicist and peace researcher Jürgen Altmann (TU Dortmund, Germany) explains that armed uninhabited vehicles (on land, on/under water, in the air) do not exist in a legal vacuum.   For example, they must not be equipped with biological or chemical weapons. In Europe most land and air […]

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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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Moral Machines Guru takes moral high ground on autonomous weapons

Wendell Wallach is well known for co-authoring the important book ‘Moral Machines’ with Colin Allen. It presents the best state of the art description and discussion of how computers could or might make moral decisions about humans in the future. Now Wendell has come out strongly against the whole notion of autonomous weapons. He sees […]

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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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The rational approach to the inhumanity of automating death by machines

Three days after the publication of the Human Rights Watch Report: Losing our Humanity: The case against killer robots, the US Department of Defence issued a directive that gave clearance for the development of autonomous weapons: weapons that once launched can select and engage targets without further intervention. Here is my response on the relationship […]

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Drone race will ultimately lead to a sanitised factory of slaughter

This is a link to an article that I wrote for the Guardian Newspaper in August 2012 which I think is becoming more relevant as we progress towards a campaign to stop killer robots. It describes the progression from current drone technology to the new fully autonomous weapons that are described in the Human Rights […]

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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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