A robot-mule working for the US Marines (Picture: US Military).
The European Parliament has voted symbolically in favour of a ban on so-called ‘killer robots’.
MEPs called for an international ban on autonomous robots that can kill without human authorisation.
Bodil Valero, a Green Party MEP, told Parliament that she supported an outright international ban:
"The power to decide over life and death should never be taken out of human hands and given to machines."
Such a ban was discussed in August by the United Nations; the United States, Russia, Israel and South Korea all expressed reservations, saying they thought autonomous weapons could yet become a valuable part of military arsenals.
However, Amnesty International supported a ban. Rasha Abdul Rahim, an advisor on Artificial Intelligence and Human Rights, told the UN:
“Killer robots are no longer the stuff of science fiction. From artificially intelligent drones to automated guns that can choose their own targets, technological advances in weaponry are far outpacing international law.
"We are sliding towards a future where humans could be erased from decision-making around the use of force.”
In 2015, a Human Rights Watch report argued that programmers, manufacturers, and military personnel could all escape liability for unlawful deaths and injuries caused by fully autonomous weapons.