Terminator is probably one of the worst inspirations for painting a picture of the future, and the United Nations wants to make sure that the film’s creative dystopia never becomes a reality. UN’s Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons is actually having a meeting this week to discuss how to prevent autonomous robots from destroying humanity.
The United Nations has a lot of things to worry about. Famine, war, inequality, discrimination, epidemic disease… and now, reports New Scientist, the threat of autonomous robots that could destroy us on a whim. The UN’s Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons is meeting this week with experts on the subject of “Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems”—i.e., killer robots. At stake is the question of what level of “meaningful human control” robots, or any weapon, should be able to have. As a 2013 UN report put it (pdf, p. 7): “…is it morally acceptable to delegate decisions about the use of lethal force to such systems? If their use results in a war crime or serious human rights violation, who would be legally responsible? If responsibility cannot be determined as required by international law, is it legal or ethical to deploy such systems?”