Lethal Autonomous Weapons or Killer Robots are on the immediate horizon. Autonomous Weapons have attracted a large amount of investment and development from governments and militaries around the world.

Their configurations are mixed from large unitary weapons to masses of networked micro-drones that can swarm a battlefield. Fully autonomous weapons are unique in that they find their own targets and decide who to kill and when. Once unleashed there is no meaningful human control.

The simple imperative as stated by many developers of Artificial Intelligence and campaigners for a ban is, allowing a machine to decide who shall live and who shall die is a step too far and must be regulated against. This is a profound ethical issue and ‘Crosses a moral Rubicon’ to allow machines to kill autonomously.

An international campaign to ban these weapons was created in 2012 and is working to create an internationally legally binding treaty that will deal with this weapon system.

This campaign urges the Australian government and military to support a ban and commit to never develop lethal autonomous weapons

Matilda Byrne is the Australian National Coordinator of the Stop Killer Robots Campaign.

She holds a Master Degree in International Relations and is presently working on her PhD on International Security and Global Governance.

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