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‘Killer robots’ threaten future of humanity, campaigners warn

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

“Killer robots”, or autonomous weapon systems, threaten to wipe out humanity, a new report has warned.

"Killer robots", or autonomous weapon systems, threaten to wipe out humanity, a new report has warned.

The study by Human Rights Watch (HRW) said 30 nations had backed a global treaty to ban the use of autonomous weapons - lethal devices that engage targets without human control.

While Australia has supported talks on the futuristic military technology, the Federal Government has backed away from a worldwide ban, the report said.

"Australia is developing and testing various autonomous weapons systems," the HRW document said.

Two years ago, then foreign minister Julia Bishop said it was "premature" to ban the technology.

But the report - Stopping Killer Robots: Country Positions on Banning Fully Autonomous Weapons and Retaining Human Control - said that a growing number of countries want a treaty to curb them.

Since 2013, about 160 non-government organisations, including HRW, have been involved in the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots.

"Removing human control from the use of force is now widely regarded as a grave threat to humanity that, like climate change, deserves urgent multilateral action," Mary Wareham, the campaign's co-ordinator and arms division advocacy director at Human Rights Watch, said.

"An international ban treaty is the only effective way to deal with the serious challenges raised by fully autonomous weapons."

But the report said a small number of powerful countries are a major hurdle to any global ban.

They include the US and Russia, which have rejected the proposals.

Both countries have invested heavily in developing artificial intelligence for military use.

Ms Wareham has compared the threat posed by killer robots with the COVID-19 pandemic.

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"While the pandemic has delayed diplomacy, it shows the importance of being prepared and responding with urgency to existential threats to humanity, such as killer robots," she said.

Source: 9News

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