The United Nations (UN) could be considering a possible ban on automated weapons known as "killer robots." The representatives of the countries around the world met at the UN Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) on Saturday to discuss the use of weapons systems.
During the meeting, at least 22 nations called for an outright ban on the development and utilisation of automated weapons or "killer robots." Before the convention, hundreds of experts in the field of artificial intelligence and robotics also joined in the call and sent letters to world leaders, asking them to support a ban on autonomous weapons.
Reports state that the founder of OpenAI and CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, Elon Musk, has also been supporting the regulation of autonomous weapons development.
The UN meeting, however, was not as productive, but the groundwork for future talks was set during the discussions, and are likely to occur sometime next year.
The advocacy director of the Arms Division at the Human Rights Watch, Mary Wareham, and global coordinator for the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots said, "Countries do not have time...to waste just talking about this subject," according to AFP reports. She added that militaries and defence companies across the world are already investing heavily in bringing these weapons into reality.
The chair of the meeting, Amandeep Gill, India's disarmament ambassador, attempted to clear the hype around the automated weapons and said, "Ladies and gentlemen, I have news for you: the robots are not taking over the world. Humans are still in charge," he exclaimed, according to reporting from The Guardian. "I think we have to be careful in not emotionalising or dramatising this issue."
However, the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots said that the meeting led to two points of agreement on automated weapons, where most nations agreed that a "legally binding instrument" controlling the use of these technologies was required and that the majority of "states now accept that some form of human control must be maintained over weapons systems."
Commenting on automated weapons, an expert on AI at the University of New South Wales in Australia, Toby Walsh said that these weapons will have a major impact on the way war is waged.
"These will be weapons of mass destruction," Walsh told reporters during a separate event at the UN. "I am actually quite confident that we will ban these weapons ... My only concern is whether [countries] have the courage of conviction to do it now, or whether we will have to wait for people to die first," he said.