Don’t Allow the Military to Develop Killer Robots

Target: World Leaders

Goal: Preemptively ban the production of fully autonomous weapons that will pose a threat to civilians

The mention of “killer robots” may conjure up images out of science fiction, but the truth of the matter is that technology is getting dangerously close to achieving what only years ago was pure fantasy. The need to take a concrete stand against the development and implementation of these weapons is a necessity, especially as more and more of the world’s militaries employ precursors to fully autonomous weaponry on the battlefield. The real lives at stake are the millions of civilians who stand to get caught in the crossfire of wars fought between machines. Encourage the world’s leaders to ban the production of these potentially devastating tools of war.

The threat from fully autonomous weapons is measured by international humanitarian law. The supposed weaponry—absent of a human mind and conscience—would be unable to evaluate the proportionality of an attack, a key aspect to just war theory that measure civilian harm against military advantage. These robots would also lack human compassion and empathy, serving as the perfect tool for a dictator or power-hungry warlord. While doubtlessly saving the lives of military personnel, such technology will make going to war far too easy and widen the accountability gap. After all, who should be held responsible for the actions of a machine? Those who serve to lose the most from this proposed technology are the average citizens of the world, those who may find themselves in the way or deemed disposal by freely thinking, freely acting weapons of war.

The United States is already a leader in pushing towards more and more autonomous weaponry, having demonstrated to the world the effect drone airstrikes can have on warfare. But there are many other countries that have begun to test the waters in this field as well, including China, Germany, Israel, South Korea, Russia, and the United Kingdom. In fact, experts predict that within 20 to 30 years, fully autonomous weaponry could become a reality. As a truly international issue—and a threat to human rights—the international community should take the opportunity to formulate rules and regulations governing this potential technology, taking steps to ban its development and design appropriate punishments before it is too late.

Call upon the world’s governmental leaders to take action and formulate a treaty banning the development of this dangerous technology.


Dear World Leaders,

While the idea of taking action against “killer robots” may sound like the plot of a science fiction novel, this threat is becoming more and more imminent every day. The United States has already shown what precursors to fully autonomous weaponry can do, and with China, Israel, South Korea, the United Kingdom, Russia, and Germany already taking steps in a similar direction, it is high time that the international community formulate a unified stance on the issue.

Fully automated weaponry poses several problems to international humanitarian law. Serving as soldiers without a human mind and conscience, these robots will be unable to evaluate the proportionality of an attack, failing to consider the civilian damage done to achieve military goals. Furthermore, without the compassion, empathy, and sense of right and wrong found within humanity, these killer robots may become the instrument of choice for dictators or warlords intent on bending a people to their will. Finally, fully autonomous weaponry—while preserving the lives of military personnel—will make going to war far too easy and consequently widen the accountability gap. Who is responsible for the actions of a machine?

The losers in these apocalyptic scenarios are certainly the average citizens of the world, those who stand to get caught between warring robots with no concern for the human side of war. I ask that you formulate an international treaty banning the production and implementation of this technology before it is too late.


[Your Name Here]


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One Comment

  1. Truly scary and surreal. Hard to imagine what these things will do. Time to concentrate our energy on peace and solutions to climate change, because natural disasters alone are as bad as or worse than war. Study war no more.

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