Sheffield scientist warns of killer robots

Professor Noel Sharkey.
Professor Noel Sharkey.
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Sheffield scientist Professor Noel Sharkey is off to Switzerland this week – to warn global leaders of the dangers of developing killer robots.

The Sheffield University expert will be in Geneva for a debate at the United Nation’s convention of certain conventional weapons, to explore growing global concerns over lethal autonomous weapons systems.

During recent years, a number of leading robotics experts, international aid agencies and governments have become increasingly concerned about the dangers posed by such systems, amid the growing technological advances which are being made in the field.

An international campaign has started to stop the development of ‘killer robots’ which can be used to identify and attack a target without human intervention.

Prof Sharkey said: “We are concerned academics who have been pushing for international discussion on this issue for the last five years.

“We launched a campaign last year calling for a new international treaty to be developed to prohibit these weapons systems. Although fully autonomous weapons are not in operation yet, a number of states are well under way in research, development and testing of related technologies.

“Weapons with greater levels of autonomy are already starting to be put in action.

“If we do not put an end to this trend for automating warfare now, we could face a bleak future where machines are delegated with the decision to kill humans.”