International rules being drawn up to ban AI robots from autonomous killing decisions

International rules are being drawn up to stop military robots with artificial intelligence (AI) from autonomously deciding which targets to choose and whether to use lethal force. The guiding principles will effectively become the foundation of international rules for the development of AI-equipped robotic weapons that can autonomously move and kill or injure people. Although the guidelines under consideration at an international conference that gets under way in Geneva from Aug. 20 will not be legally binding, key countries, such as permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Japan, are likely to agree to them.

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It is widely believed that weapons and technologies to create such lethal autonomous weapons systems are now being developed by the United States, Russia, Israel, South Korea and other countries. As  per International rules such weapons systems must be in accordance with international laws, such as international humanitarian laws. Also when developing or acquiring new weapons systems based on emerging technologies, the risk of acquisition by terrorist groups and the risk of proliferation should be considered.

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Whatever guiding principles are adopted, they are bound to be ones that member countries can easily agree to. The countries are expected to discuss over several years whether the principles should be developed into a legally binding treaty. However, human rights organizations contend the countries are trying to delay the issue. The Japanese government  will refrain from developing completely autonomous weapons systems that kill people.