Instead of a binding agreement regulating or prohibiting the employment of “killer robots,” the United States has proposed a “code of conduct” at the United Nations.
The Guardian reported that A US official scoffed at the concept of limiting the deployment of such “lethal autonomous weapons” through a “legally-binding instrument” during a meeting in Geneva aimed at establishing common ground. The gathering saw government experts preparing for high-level discussions at the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons Review Conference, which will take place from December 13 to 17.
Josh Dorosin, a US official, told the meeting “In our view, the best way to make progress … would be through the development of a non-binding code of conduct,” Since 2017, the United Nations have hosted diplomatic talks in Geneva aim of establishing a consensus on how to deal with the use of killer robots.
Activists in a number of countries have demanded an outright ban on any weapon that may employ fatal force without a human overseeing the process and issuing the final kill order. The UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, joined the call for a ban in November 2018, although governments have yet to agree on whether the weapons need to be regulated.
Several countries, notably India and the United States, criticized the idea of a legally binding pact during Thursday’s debate.
While dozens of countries have indicated support for a global prohibition on the use of autonomous weapons systems, the United States has been a key impediment to progress for years. On Thursday, Dorosin underlined the United States’ objection to a “legally-binding instrument” that would outlaw killer robots.
The Biden administration’s view, according to John Tasioulas, director of the Institute for Ethics in AI, is “sad but expected.”
New Zealand, for one, stated on Tuesday that it would join an international coalition calling for an end to LAWS, stating that “the possibility of a future where the decision to terminate a human life is delegated to machines is repulsive.”
Clare Conboy of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots disagreed with the US decision and said “States have a historic opportunity to ensure meaningful human control over the use of force and prevent a world in which machines make life and death decisions,”