Mission: Kill the Killer Robots

Dr. Noel Sharkey, professor of robotics and the Chairman of The International Committee for Robot Arms Control (ICRAC), believes that the technology for mass production of killer robots will be available in the next 10 years.

The Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) took place at the United Nations in Geneva from 10 to 11 November 2014. Among other matters discussed at this convention, attending nations also addressed the controversial question of lethal autonomous weapons. As it might have been predicted, they concluded to continue their deliberations in this field. It was a good opportunity for many formal and informal organizations demanding a preemptive ban on killer robots to raise their voice against further developments of this technology.


Earlier this year on the CCW conference in Geneva experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS) discussed these matters with the emphasis on the role of humans in taking final decisions during the armed conflict.

Although no country so far has admitted they are working on similar programs, there is a concern that some countries, such as the USA, Britain and Israel, are secretly perfecting such weapons. These machines would be equipped with latest technologies incorporating intelligent decision-making systems that could act autonomously.


Similar semi-autonomous systems are already in use. Drones are already part of our daily life, and an indispensable asset on a battlefield. That way humans can wage wars behind the computer interface, avoiding any direct contact with the enemy on the ground. The ‘good’ thing is that people are still those who make the ultimate decisions upon engaging a particular target. Unfortunately, new battle machines are on the rise. They will not have any restrictions in terms of killing anyone or destroying anything that stands in their path. Removing humans from the decision-making protocol can help us keep our hands clean, and leave our psyche untouched with the deaths of others. That can result in more killings than necessary. These lethal autonomous weapons, known as killer robots, are a matter of concern for many scientists, human rights organizations and politicians around the globe.

As with any other thing on this planet, there is a flip side of the coin, shedding a different light on the situation. Deprived of human emotions, notably fear and arousal, which are unavoidable companions of any combatant, these war machines could make decisions more rationally and avoid collateral damage caused by human error.