Smoke rising after a barrel bomb attack in Daraya, Syria

Amnesty Calls on Australia to Support a Ban on Killer Robots

Amnesty International has written to Australia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne, calling on the Australian Government to support an international treaty process that would see the prohibition of Autonomous Weapons Systems (AWS).

Over the past five years, talks on the issue of AWS have been advancing at a slow pace. The majority of states support the need to regulate AWS, however Australia continues to fund the development of weapons systems with increasing autonomy using new technology and artificial intelligence, and to argue that there is no need for a legally binding international instrument concerning AWS. These ‘killer robots’ could be used in conflict zones, by police forces and in border control. A machine should not be allowed to make a decision over life and death

The replacement of troops with machines will make the decision to go to war easier. What’s more, machines can’t make complex ethical choices within the context of unpredictable battlefield or real world scenarios; there is no substitute for human decision making.

After eight years of discussions, it is time for states to take meaningful action towards a legally binding law on AWS. The pace of technology development must be matched by the creation of law to tackle the threat posed by killer robots. We call on Australia to join with other nations in supporting the establishment of a legally binding instrument, and a prohibition on AWS that target humans.