U.N. calls for moratorium on U.S., Israeli ‘killer robots’

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The United Nations said in a report released Thursday that fatal attacks should not be carried out by killer robots that act absent human command and oversight.

The report, from the U.N. Human Rights Commission, said “lethal autonomous robotics,” or LARS, should never be handed “decisions over life and death in armed conflict.” Report author Christof Heyns, a U.N. human rights attorney, said deciding whether or not to kill during war “require[s] compassion and intuition. Humans, while they are fallible, at least might possess these qualities, whereas robots definitely do not,” The Associated Press reported.

The report considers more than unmanned drones.

While drone are directed by human, killer robots are actually programmed to make independent decisions — akin to “Star Wars” and science-fiction movie depictions. They don’t need orders from humans to act, Mr. Heyns said, AP reported.

The report identified the biggest current-day offenders of robot killing: the United States, Britain, Israel, South Korea and Japan, AP said.

Some examples include the U.S. Phalanx system for Aegis-class cruisers, and the U.S. Counter Rocket, Artillery and Mortar system, or C-RAM. Phalanx identifies and shoots down targets from the sea and air, while C-RAN automatically destroys incoming rockets and mortars, AP reported.

The report was posted on the U.N.’s website earlier this week.

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