Faced with ethical findings, six American companies specializing in robotics agree to no longer manufacture robots that could be used to kill. They also intend to equip their civilian robots with systems to avoid hijacking them so that they do not turn into lethal weapons.
It’s been a few years since killer robots are no longer part of the realm of the imagination. Between the dronesdrones autonomous killers, robot assassins or robots like the chienchien Spur equipped with an assault rifle, examples abound. The technology is being adopted or diverted by more and more unscrupulous states in mattermatter of ethics. At the level of the legal framework, that does not work out either. While at the end of the end of last year, the members of the United Nations agreed that a framework should be applied to their use, there was no longer any question of banning them as was the case. the previous year.
It is always the same countries which are dragging their feet on a regulation: India, Russia and the United States which do not want binding regulations. Yet, it may well be that the decision to stop the proliferation of these Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (SALA), otherwise known as killer robots, will ultimately come from the civilian sector, at least in the United States.
Stop the hijacking of civilian robots
Thus Boston Dynamics and five other robot manufacturers (Agility Robotics, ANYbotics, Clearpath Robotics, Open Robotics and Unitree Robotics), have just announced on Thursday that they were stopping the development of robots for military purposes and that they would no longer authorize their use in this sense. In their missive public carried by Boston Dynamics, they explained that they consider that ” adding weapons to remotely or autonomously operated robots […] raises new risks and serious ethical issues. »
What caught their attention and reinforced this decision was that a small number of individuals managed to arm the commercial versions of their robots. This is particularly the case of Spot, or a suicide robot equipped with a bomb which was used in 2016 by the police to eliminate the author of a hostage-taking in Dallas. The companies are also committed to developing new technological bricks that could prevent the hijacking of robots for these purposes.
As for the existing, that is to say, the robots that they have developed in coordination with the army or the security forces, they do not dispute their use as long as it is not not a diversion. However, this letter has not been signed by all the companies in the sector. This is particularly the case of Ghost Robotics which designed the armed robot Spur.