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A moral line we must not cross: UN, Red Cross team up to warn the world of 'killer robots'

The United Nations and Red Cross earlier this week had jointly urged all of its member countries to address the issue of autonomous weapons, also known as ‘killer robots’ in a bid to protect humanity from their ‘terrible consequences’.

Killer robots are alternatively used for the autonomous weapon systems which are able to make decisions on their own to use lethal force. Amid rise in artificial intelligence across all spectrums, the UN and Red Cross Society both underlined the need to make this critical decision before 2026 as it is expected that most of the working machines will be automated within the next 3 years, media reports said.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and president of the International Committee of the Red Cross Mirjana Spoljaric recently told that making a decision on these ‘killer robots’ is essential and a priority for humanity.

The organisations reportedly called for all of their 193 member countries to set specific bans and restrictions on these ‘killer robots’ to shield present and future generations from the consequences of their use, AFP reported.

“In the current security landscape, setting clear international red lines will benefit all states,” they said.

The killer robots or autonomous weapon systems essentially select targets and apply lethal force and they do it without any human intervention and due to their mechanism, pose a serious threat to humanity and society, the leaders said.

“We must act now to preserve human control over the use of force. Human control must be retained in life and death decisions. The autonomous targeting of humans by machines is a moral line that we must not cross. Machines with the power and discretion to take lives without human involvement should be prohibited by international law,” AFP quoted the world leaders as saying.

A movement called the ‘Campaign to Stop Killer Robots’ has also been formed and a vote on the topic is expected to take place in the UN General Assembly in October.

Robots have increasingly featured in various capacity to make life easier for humans and their usefulness is undeniable but what is also equally neccessary is to bring them under human control when it comes to war and weaponry so as to not unleash destruction and death from where there is no coming back.

(Published 09 October 2023, 18:36 IST)

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