MEPs voted for an international ban on killer robots, officially known as lethal autonomous weapons today.
Lethal autonomous weapons are machines that are programmed to select and attack targets using artificial intelligence. The “robot” then can take the decision to fire and kill without a human deciding to pull the trigger.
Britain and other countries including the United States, China, Israel, South Korea and Russia are moving closer to developing fully autonomous weapons systems.
Speaking after the vote, Alex Mayer MEP said: “This isn’t science fiction, it’s science fact. So I am pleased at today’s vote to halt the dehumanisation of warfare. Autonomous armed robots strike at the heart of international humanitarian law. Without a human operator, nobody could be held responsible if a war crime was committed.”
Ms Mayer also called on the British Government to show flexibility ahead of negotiations due to take place at the United Nations in November so that a consensus can be reached on an internationally agreed definition of lethal autonomous weapons systems. The Ministry of Defence said in July that it has “no plans to change the definition of an autonomous system” despite its version differing significantly from the definitions of other countries, industry experts, and academics.