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Killer robots will leave humans 'utterly defenceless' warns professor

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Killer robots in development could leave humans 'uttlery defenceless' a leading academic has warned Photo: Warner Br/Everett/REX

Killer robots will leave humans 'utterly defenceless' warns professor

Robots, called LAWS – lethal autonomous weapons systems – will be able to kill without human intervention

The Telegraph
By Sarah Knapton
27 May 2015

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.”

Some experts say armed killer robots are just a ' small step' away

The robots, called LAWS – lethal autonomous weapons systems – are likely to be armed quadcopters of mini-tanks that can decided without human intervention who should live or die.

DARPA is currently working on two projects which could lead to killer bots. One is Fast Lightweight Autonomy (FLA) which is designing a tiny rotorcraft to manoeuvre unaided at high speed in urban areas and inside buildings. The other and Collaborative Operations in Denied Environment (CODE), is aiming to develop teams of autonomous aerial vehicles carrying out “all steps of a strike mission — find, fix, track, target, engage, assess” in situations in which enemy signal-jamming makes communication with a human commander impossible.

Last year Angela Kane, the UN’s high representative for disarmament, said killer robots were just a 'small step' away and called for a worldwide ban. But the Foreign Office has said while the technology had potentially "terrifying" implications, Britain "reserves the right" to develop it to protect troops.

Professor Russell said: "LAWS could violate fundamental principles of human dignity by allowing machines to choose whom to kill — for example, they might be tasked to eliminate anyone exhibiting ‘threatening behaviour’

“Debates should be organized at scientific meetings; arguments studied by ethics committees. Doing nothing is a vote in favour of continued development and deployment.”

However Dr Sabine Hauert, a lecturer in robotics at the University of Bristol said that the public did not need to fear the developments in aritifical intelligence.

“My colleagues and I spend dinner parties explaining that we are not evil but instead have been working for years to develop systems that could help the elderly, improve health care, make jobs safer and more efficient, and allow us to explore space or beneath the ocean,” she said.



  1. Hmmm with all the police brutality going on in the USA. I would not be surprise if these killer robots replaced the police.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


    1. Paul L Davis,

      The internet is vast. Magnitudes of sites for you to explore. I suggest you go comment elsewhere. I will delete any comment from you, now and in the future. That is not fear mongering but reality. Here... watch as what I said comes to fruition.

  3. So the Defence and Military Industries are developing these for Sunday Schools. Really? Churchill warned loudly about the Nazi menace and was shouted down. WW11 was the price and over 35M dead. Primed to kill, it will. Defence mechanisms are like bacteria with anti biotics. They adjust, come back stronger and kill with greater menace. Be careful what we unleash. Hard truth if hard to take, is what got this world into the mess its in, by ignoring it. I deal with the social consequences of public naivety daily. Fortunately so did our great voters when they threw out clueless half wits weeks ago.

    Paul, what planet are you on? It's not roses you can smell out there. Love and truth will get swept aside if the Neocons and NWO fanatics get their way. What part of Tri Lateral policies to cut you to 500M do you not get? You think that does not mean you. Really? Tree hugging fixes nothing. Facing reality does.
    Want to buy some Dinars from TNT Tony?

    1. John and Canauzzie,

      These people developing robots of this level and magnitude are free to go live off planet. Take their robots and play elsewhere. It will be fine by me.

      These people are amoral and "a" everything... They are without conscience and are psychologically disturbed... IMO

      ~get real

  4. That movie "Elysium" shows it like it could be. We do not want these robots to have autonomous power. Even if human controlled, there can be many ways to hack and control them for evil.

    Paul, again, most of us want to know what is really going on in this world, fear mongering or not. It is better to know so we can learn how to help ourselves, our loved ones and neighbors.

    More and more this is becoming a world that I just don't want to live in. I focus on the one that I do want to live in and it is beautiful.

    1. Same Biffie. Who would have thought a species could have reached our levels of insanity? A textbook case for other civilizations.

  5. Paul I agree it is not pleasant at times. But neither is it new. The light has been switched on and we are simply seeing the cockroaches for the first time. It will likely intensify for a while..

    The light allows humanity to say 'no'. In so doing the energetics preclude further chenanigans as the illusion comes with one stipulation: free will.

    We knew before we incarnated it would get to this. Well, here we are finally. Let's get on with the job of introducing the energetics we said we would. If this is your mission too there is nothing to fear.


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