Russia sparks war alarm bells after refusing to join UN in regulating its 'killer robots'

Killer robots strike fear into tech leaders

Sign up for FREE for the biggest new releases, reviews and tech hacks

Invalid email

We use your sign-up to provide content in ways you’ve consented to and to improve our understanding of you. This may include adverts from us and 3rd parties based on our understanding. You can unsubscribe at any time. More info

declared its alarming stance on the ethical dilemma at a United Nations (UN) conference on the use and ethics of lethal autonomous weapons. The UN’s Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) conference, which will wrap up on August 13, saw delegates from 50 countries discuss possible new regulations on the use of autonomous killing machines. A Russian diplomat has, however, claimed “no new regulations” are required when considering the issue of killer robots targetting humans.

Speaking on Tuesday, the Russian delegate argued autonomous weapons ought to be deployed in the same way human soldiers are – by complying with “the principles of necessity and proportionality”.

There has been a growing movement in recent years to push for stricter regulation or outright bans of killer robot technology.

Russia has been known to deploy autonomous weapons in the past, with the country’ first unmanned tanks being deployed in Syria in 2019.

Unsurprisingly, the Russian delegate at the UN has claimed there is a “current lack of convincing justification for imposing new restrictions or prohibitions” on such weapons.

READ: Concorde 2.0: NASA shares incredible video of ‘quiet’ supersonic jet

Russian President Vladimir Putin

Russia does not believe autonomous ‘killer robots’ need new regulation (Image: GETTY)

Tweet from UN conference on autonomus weapons

A Russian delegate at a UN conference said there is no need for further regulation (Image: MARY WAREHAM TWITTER)

According to The Telegraph, the delegate went on to say: “The high level of autonomy of these weapons allows [them] to operate within a dynamic conflict situation and in various environments while maintaining an appropriate level of selectivity and precision.

“As a result, it ensures the compliance with rules of international humanitarian law.”

Many human rights groups, however, believe autonomous weapons have no right to appear on the battlefield.

Earlier this year the Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has called for an outright ban of fully autonomous weapons.

China and Russia is a ‘challenge’ for UK says Tobias Ellwood

Experts are particularly worried about the threat to civilian life posed by autonomous weapons.

Because killer robots could potentially be left to make decisions on their own, chances are they might not discriminate between armed combatants and unarmed civilians.

Peter Maurer, ICRC President, said during a virtual briefing in May this year: “In the event an autonomous weapon is used: How will civilians be protected when the user of an autonomous weapon does not know exactly where or when, or what, they will destroy?

“Or imagine an autonomous weapon’s sensor is triggered by civilian buses with a similar shape to soldiers’ transport vehicles and starts striking all buses over a wide area without the user being able to intervene and deactivate?”

Russia military fact sheet

Facts and stats about the Russian millitary might (Image: EXPRESS)

Autonomous drone firing missiles

Humanitarian groups have called for a full ban on autonomus weapons (Image: GETTY)

He added: “In the ICRC’s view, the unconstrained use of autonomous weapons brings significant risks of harm to civilians and combatants alike.”

Even the Vatican has taken a stance on the issue, with an envoy from the Catholic city-state appearing at the UN conference.

Envoy John Putzer echoed the ICRC’s concern about killer robots targetting wrong targets due to the limitations of technology.

He said: “Let us consider the actions which require the agency of human reason – for instance, of distinction, proportionality, precaution, necessity and expected military advantage.

“The respect and application of these principles require the timely interpretation and understanding of particular contexts and situations that are hardly programmable.

“The end does not justify the means used to achieve it. How would autonomous weapons be able to respond to the principles of humanity and the dictates of public conscious?”

Thankfully, Russia’s view on regulating killer robots appears to be in the minority.

Belgian diplomat Axel Kenes said on Tuesday it is time for the world to come together to make sure “illegal weapons stay out of the future battlefields”.

The delegates of Costa Rica, Panama, Peru, Uruguay, Philippines, El Salvador, Palestine and Sierra Leon also issued a joint statement saying: “We need to focus common understandings – war should remain a human issue.”

Related post