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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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.

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?

You're missing that it falsifies your claim.

You said there's no way to argue.

I'll accept that as a split hair.

I love the way you provide links to definitions. It's so cute.

I used the word atrocity to reply to Pope Beanie's use of the word. My only point was that to think of ourselves as the "good guys" is naive. There are worse and better than us. Bottom line is we have our interests and others have theirs.

I don't hate my country; I just try to keep a balanced perspective, unlike the people who manage to somehow justify every crappy thing we do and continue to insist we live in the best country in the world.

To think of ourselves as monsters who commit atrocities is doubly naive. We live in a world of hard choices. To stand outside on the sidelines and kibitz is basically to abandon and disown your heritage. WW2 is your heritage.

Truman almost certainly saved a lot of AMERICAN lives, and remember it was Japan who started the loss of American lives with Pearl Harbor. Whatever doom they suffered they brought down on themselves. If you're wringing your hands about the loss of Japanese civilian lives, think about all of the widows, orphans, incapacitating injuries, and PTSD they caused American families. Remember, we were a people who didn't even want to get into war before Pearl Harbor. We could have justified incinerating their island from top to bottom.

Americans have a lot more to be proud of than the Germans or Japanese when it comes to WW2, which is why they tend to keep their mouths shut.

Who said "monsters"?  I said we have our interests and they have theirs.  We protect our interests and that sometimes means getting our hands dirty.  But let's just be honest about it.   You said they brought it on themselves by attacking Pearl Harbor.  Punishment is something meted out by a (hopefully) objective independent body.  What we did is called revenge.  That's fine.  They attacked us; mash the fuck out of them.  But call it what it is. 

You also said it was a necessity to end the war, but some at the time didn't think so, like Eisenhower, MacArthur, and various Admirals.  Some thought the tide had already turned in our favor; we could use air superiority and avoid invasion to get the Japanese to surrender.  Gallup's Mirror also suggested that a near-miss nuke attack could have scared them straight.  Even if Hiroshima was necessary, Nagasaki was gratuitous.

At that point in the war, it was clear that even though we had a tenuous alliance with the Soviets, they would be our next problem to deal with.  And Stalin was nucking futs.  Who knows if his WWII bloodlust would have led him to continue the fighting, against us.  We (Truman) had to show him we were just as crazy as he was and he shouldn't even think of messing with us. 

This has been an interesting tangent, but my original point was that we invaded Iraq under false pretenses because they were incapable of attacking us.  YOU, Unseen, equated that to Germany and Japan.  Clearly not the same thing.

I think that incinerating thousands of civilians in an instant qualifies as atrocity. And we didn't do it to bring about a swift end to the war; we did it to show the Russians we could and would do it.

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