The use of autonomous drones – “killer robots” that could fire weapons with no human control – must be prohibited by international treaty, human rights campaigners and lawyers have said.
Weapons being developed that could choose and attack targets without human intervention should be pre-emptively banned because of the danger they would pose to civilians in armed conflict, they said.
Losing Humanity: The Case Against Killer Robots, a 50-page report by Human Rights Watch (HRW), warns that fully autonomous weapons would lack human qualities that provide legal and non-legal checks on the killing of civilians.
“Giving machines the power to decide who lives and dies on the battlefield would take technology too far,” said Steve Goose, the HRW arms division director. “Human control of robotic warfare is essential to minimising civilian deaths and injuries.”