A slew of reports over the last two weeks detailing cases of U.S. armed drones killing civilians signaled a new wave of outrage over the unregulated use of drones by the U.S. There was one report from the United Nations, another from Human Rights Watch, and one from Amnesty International. The uproar—and the sense that Washington has done little to make more transparent its use of drones—culminated in a debate Friday at the UN.
But a parallel movement has emerged to make sure that a different and perhaps more terrifying technology never makes it this far.
The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots is a coalition of weapons monitors and human rights groups leading an effort, formally since April, to establish an international ban on fully autonomous lethal weapons. Dubbed (by opponents) “killer robots,” it’s a technology that can kill targets (humans) without any human input. Whereas drones today have someone somewhere remotely determining where and when to fire, a fully autonomous air, land, or sea weapon could be making the decisions on its own.