According to a report in the New Scientist, a group of experts has joined forces to promote a campaign to limit the use of robotic military hardware, calling for autonomous weapons systems to be banned from space and that robotic systems should be banned from carrying nuclear weapons.
Roboticist Noel Sharkey at the University of Sheffield, UK; physicist Jürgen Altmann of Dortmund University of Technology, Germany; Robert Sparrow of the Centre for Human Bioethics, Monash University, near Melbourne, Australia; and philosopher Peter Asaro of Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey met in Sheffield in early September to discuss a series of issues including the group's ethical concerns regarding military systems that make decisions independently of human operators.
At the conclusion of the group's meeting, the International Committee for Robot Arms Control (ICRAC) was formed.
In an interview with New Scientist, Sharkey voiced his concerns, saying, "We seem to be rushing headlong into the development of autonomous weapons systems without any real concern for the long-term impact on civilian populations."
Many nations either currently field or have plans to deploy remotely controlled, unmanned vehicles, robots, and aerial vehicles. One thing that most of these systems have in common is the inclusion of a human operator. ICRAC is concerned that the next generation of robots being developed for military purposes will remove direct human oversight with potentially devastating consequences.
To that end, the organization hopes to inspire a set of regulations that would apply to military robotics, much the same way current regulations govern the use of nuclear and biological weapons.