GOUSA…and a few friends…blocked a treaty on Killer Robots

Country officials and campaigners have expressed disappointment after United Nations talks on autonomous weapons systems – known as “killer robots” – stopped short of launching negotiations into an international treaty to govern their use following opposition from manufacturing states.

Unlike existing semi-autonomous weapons such as drones, fully-autonomous weapons have no human-operated “kill switch” and instead leave decisions over life and death to sensors, software and machine processes…

But on Friday, the Sixth Review Conference on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) failed to schedule further talks around the development and use of the Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems, or LAWS.

Countries already investing heavily in the development of LAWS attended the five-day meeting in Geneva, blocking a majority from agreeing on steps to establish legally-binding rules on machine-operated weapons.

Sources following the talks told Reuters news agency that Russia, India and the United States were among the countries that pushed back against a new LAWS treaty….

Uncle Sugar has been playing this dog-in-the-manger act over and over for decades. We did it with nuclear weapons and here we go, again. Other – equally untrustworthy – nations will match or surpass “our” killer robots with their own killer robots. Then, we sign off and say “OK” hoping at a minimum to keep some of the smaller power brokers from creating their own lot of murderous toys.

Preview the rise of killer robots

The Munich Security Conference is an annual catalogue of horrors. But the most ominous discussion this past weekend wasn’t about Islamic State terrorism but a new generation of weapons — such as killer robots and malignly programmed “smart” appliances that could be deployed in future conflicts.

Behind the main events at the annual discussion of foreign and defense policy here was a topic described in one late-night session as “The Future of Warfare: Race with the Machines.” The premise was that we are at the dawn of an era of conflict in which all wars will be, to some extent, cyberwars, and new weapons will combine radical advances in hardware, software and even biology…

Guests at a “Cyber Dinner” hosted here by the Atlantic Council considered the dawning world of killer appliances. In the coming Internet of Things (IoT), speakers noted, there will soon be more than 30 billion smart chips embedded in cars, elevators, refrigerators, thermostats and medical devices. These pervasive, connected systems may well have poor security and be easily hackable.

The big worry in the future, argued several tech experts at the dinner, may not be data privacy — forget about that — but data security. “You can know my blood type, but don’t change it,” one speaker explained. Hackers may be able to alter data in financial markets, hospitals and electrical grids — paralyzing normal economic and social activity…

From Obama’s favorite Himmlerite, James Clapper:

❝ “In the future, intelligence services might use the IoT for identification, surveillance, monitoring, location tracking and targeting for recruitment, or to gain access to networks or user credentials,” Clapper told Congress. And he warned in his testimony that as artificial intelligence is built into weapons, they will be “susceptible to a range of disruptive and deceptive tactics that might be difficult to anticipate or quickly understand.”

The chuckle, of course, is that Clapper is either talking about what is on his implementation schedule – or already has in the wild.