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Killer robots which are being developed by the US military ‘will leave humans utterly defenceless‘, an academic has warned.
Two programmes commissioned by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) are seeking to create drones which can track and kill targets even when out of contact with their handlers.
Writing in the journal Nature, Stuart Russell, Professor of Computer Science at the University of California, Berkley, said the research could breach the Geneva Convention and leave humanity in the hands of amoral machines.
“Autonomous weapons systems select and engage targets without human intervention; they become lethal when those targets include humans,” he said.
“Existing AI and robotics components can provide physical platforms, perception, motor control, navigation, mapping, tactical decision-making and long-term planning. They just need to be combined.
“In my view, the overriding concern should be the probable endpoint of this technological trajectory.
“Despite the limits imposed by physics, one can expect platforms deployed in the millions, the agility and lethality of which will leave humans utterly defenceless. This is not a desirable future.”
A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.