A United Nations conference is seeking to ban autonomous killing machines. Basically, this refers to killer robots that make their own battlefield decisions, which would make war absolutely impersonal. The idea is that if someone is going to be killed, it should always ultimately be a human decision, not one made by a CPU.

If the past is to be a guide, just about every technology with lethal possibilities has been developed, not necessarily to be better than the enemy but to be on a par with them. 

Take a look at the following article, and then what are your thoughts?

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WHY THE UNITED NATIONS IS TALKING ABOUT KILLER ROBOTS
May 13, 2014
By ALYSSA NEWCOMB
Digital Reporter

Is it time to stop the Terminator in its tracks?

Some of the best and brightest leaders are meeting for a United Nations conference in Geneva, Switzerland, today to discuss what future threat killer robots could pose to the world, just like the part-man, part-machine cyborg that Arnold Schwarzenegger played in the Terminator film series.

Killer robots, or "lethal autonomous weapons systems" (LAWS) are machines that would be able to select their targets without direct human mediation. They don't fully exist yet, however the dystopian idea has led to the first-ever meeting on the issue.

"I urge delegates to take bold action," Michael Møller, acting director-general of the United Nations office in Geneva, told attendees, according to a United Nations statement. "All too often international law only responds to atrocities and suffering once it has happened. You have the opportunity to take pre-emptive action and ensure that the ultimate decision to end life remains firmly under human control."

Among the issues that will be addressed at the meeting are what levels of autonomy and predictability exist in robots and a future look at the next steps in robotic technology, according to an agenda.

A Human Rights Watch report issued on the eve of the meeting said the fully autonomous weapons systems could also "undermine human dignity." In 2010, South Korean officials announced the installation of several semi-autonomous robotic machine guns along its border with North Korea.

The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, which describes itself as an international coalition of non-governmental organizations working to ban fully autonomous weapons, live tweeted some of the discussion today in Geneva, where a slew of government representatives shared their thoughts and concerns.

Ronald Arkin, a roboticist at the Georgia Institute of Technology, said he supports the "call for a moratorium" on the weapons, but told the attendees today he believes a ban would be premature, according to tweets about his presentation.

"It is not my belief that an unmanned system will be able to be perfectly ethical in the battlefield," Arkin said in 2007, according to the Washington Post. "But I am convinced that they can perform more ethically than human soldiers."

Later this year, the group plans to reconvene to discuss what action, if any, should be taken against the robots ... or if we're safe from them taking over the world, for now.

Tags: United Nations, killing machines, terminator

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We already proved we will trump up a reason to attack a country that is incapable of attacking us.

Invading Iraq was a terrible, knee-jerk, abuse of power, but I'll still contend that having more intelligence and smarter weaponry on the ground and in the air may have saved hundred(s) of thousands of lives, and kept Al Qaeda from becoming a significant influence there. In fact, smarter weaponry could have made the removal of Hussein a relatively small cost battle for both sides, even avoiding civil war.

And what about domestic uses and our ever increasing police state?

An important, but seperate topic from war use and international agreements.

We already proved we will trump up a reason to attack a country that is incapable of attacking us.

Like Nazi Germany and Japan? Neither one of them would have stood a chance of successfully attacking the U.S. mainland. About as far as Japan got was attacking a harbor in Hawaii. 

Does Pearl Harbor not count because it's not mainland? And what about the fact that Germany was pounding the crap out of our closest ally, England.
Iraq was crippled; there were no WMDs. That was all smoke and mirrors, and btw we'd have been hollering "war crimes" if another country had done that.
Balance of power prevents genocide. Mutually assured destruction is the only reason we weren't all vaporized in the Cold War. If one side can wipe out the other with no casualties of their own, it's a recipe for disaster. And please don't use the "but we're the good guys" argument.

And please don't use the "but we're the good guys" argument.

Do you believe that Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, and other non-state extremists deserve good guy status more than the people they victimize, or should we just say that there is no difference between good and bad, and just let atrocities take their course, giving the world to those who wield power as a daily way of life?

'but we're the good guys', just sounds like we are being set up to look like fools when we screw up, and given our rather recent history, I expect the military 'eating crow' should be a main dish!

I really want to think that the military are 'the good guys', sadly they are just 'guys' with big guns, sometimes bigger egos, and limited liability.

We should thank them for every thing that has 'worked', but never let them off the 'hook' for the crazy.   

That's pretty black and white thinking. It would be nice if the world broke down into nice neat boxes. We as a nation have committed our share of atrocities: Hiroshima (we alone hold that distinction), slavery, near-genocide of native americans, etc., not to mention some big whopping short-sighted mistakes: propping up the Taliban and Saddam's Iraq in the 80s. Are there worse nations/groups? Absolutely. But our hands are far from clean.

I find it hilarious that just about the last people to bring up Hiroshima and Nagasaki are the Japanese. Mainly it's American college kids, or recent college grads, or the usual far-leftish, I-hate-my-country suspects. People young or ill-informed enough to not realize what a rampage Japan was on in Asia, invading every country it bordered, subjugating women in those countries as sexual slaves, treating prisoners brutally, committing one atrocity after another. One might almost argue that, as a country, Japan deserved Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They only brought the United States into the war against them through a brutal peacetime sneak attack on Pearl Harbor.

There's no way to argue that some other method of bringing the war to an end would have saved more lives. It's fallacy of the path not taken. At least if you're torn between investing in Amazon or Google you can look back after two years and compare the two, but maybe in another universe we decided to invade Japan instead of using atomic weapons, and maybe if we could compare that outcome with what happened in this universe, we'd have an answer. But wishing won't make it so.

You have no basis for calling Hiroshima/Nagasaki an atrocity, unless you can accept that perhaps sometimes atrocities become necessary.

There's no way to argue that some other method of bringing the war to an end would have saved more lives.

You mean, other than the reasonable argument I presented in this thread that dropping atomic bombs into the sea near major cities like Tokyo may have made the Japanese surrender. That method may have ended the war and saved over 200,000 casualties.

You can't possibly claim to know the only method for ending the war with minimal loss of life was vaporizing two cities of mostly civilian populations.

You have no basis for calling Hiroshima/Nagasaki an atrocity, unless you can accept that perhaps sometimes atrocities become necessary.

That the bombings, executed as planned, were necessary to make Japan surrender is debatable.

Your argument is just a contingent argument. If it's a proof, then maybe I'm missing something.

Of course "the bombings, executed as planned" is debatable. Isn't that my point, or did you think I was making a different point?

Unseen: There's no way to argue that some other method of bringing the war to an end would have saved more lives.

Gallup: You mean, other than the reasonable argument I presented in this thread...

Unseen: Your argument is just a contingent argument. If it's a proof, then maybe I'm missing something.

You're missing that it falsifies your claim.

You said there's no way to argue. A statement like that applies to absurdities: there's no reasonable way to argue that a square is round. But one may reasonably argue that the atomic bombings of Japan were not necessary to end the war with minimal loss of life.

A proof is a higher standard than an argument. You're moving the goal posts. (You've been favoring that one lately.)

Of course "the bombings, executed as planned" is debatable. Isn't that my point, or did you think I was making a different point?

I was addressing two points you made. 

1. You said the atomic bombings of Hiroshima/Nagasaki were necessary. "You have no basis for calling Hiroshima/Nagasaki an atrocity, unless you can accept that perhaps sometimes atrocities become necessary."

Necessary means absolutely needed. You're suggesting the Hiroshima/Nagasaki bombings were necessary. That is, necessary for ending the war with minimal loss of life. You say there's no way to argue otherwise. That's absurd.

One such argument is right here. Others who argued the bombings were unnecessary include Dwight D. Eisenhower and Douglas MacArthur.

2. You suggested the bombings were punitive: "One might almost argue that, as a country, Japan deserved Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They only brought the United States into the war against them through a brutal peacetime sneak attack on Pearl Harbor."

Granted, you 'almost' argued this second point, so I'll almost argue that there's a hint of incompatibility between 'the necessary' and 'the deserved' when it comes to nuclear weapons, civilian populations and the prospect of national annihilation.

On this point, we agree: not that the bombings were deserved, but in the sense that they were punitive. We part company in that I think Hiroshima and Nagasaki were pulverized more for the sake of punishment than necessity.

You're missing that it falsifies your claim.

You said there's no way to argue.

I'll accept that as a split hair.

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