US rejects ban for ‘killer robots’ after fears machines may make ‘kill orders’

The USA has rejected calls to agree to ban the use of ‘killer robots’ despite fears from the public over their lethal weapons in the future.

An American official has instead proposed a ‘code of conduct’ at a UN conference in a bid to combat potential problems that could arise.

Government experts from around the world met in Geneva to discuss the use of lethal autonomous weapons that would be able to select and attack targets without any human intervention.

But while some countries were in favour of a legally binding agreement to regulate or ban their use, countries like India and the US balked at the suggestion, the Guardian reports.

Top official Josh Dorosin told the meeting: “In our view, the best way to make progress… would be through the development of a non-binding code of conduct.”

He said such a code “would help states promote responsible behaviour and compliance with international law”.

The meeting saw government experts prepare for high-level talks at a review conference on the Convention of Certain Conventional Weapons from December 13 and 17.

The UN has been hosting diplomatic talks in Geneva since 2017 aimed at reaching an agreement on how to address the use of killer robots.

Activists and a number of countries have called for an all-out ban on any weapons that could use lethal force without a human overseeing the process and making the final kill order.

In November 2018, UN chief António Guterres joined the call for a ban, but so far countries do not even agree on whether there is a need to regulate the weapons.

During Thursday’s debate, a number of countries, including India and the United States, criticised the idea of a legally binding agreement.

Clare Conboy of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots 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.”

Bonnie Docherty, a senior arms researcher at Human Rights Watch, said: “An independent process to negotiate new law on killer robots would be more effective and inclusive than the current diplomatic talks.”

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