Lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS) are also called killer robots.
Copyright by Marisa Tschopp and Marc Ruef
LAWS should be able to detect, select and destroy a target without any human oversight (inherent AI). There are strong opinions for and against LAWS, no binding regulations exist so far. With greater technology, comes greater individual responsibility for each and every person.
This paper was written in 2019 as part of a research project at scip AG, Switzerland. It was initially published online at https://www.scip.ch/en/?labs.20191003 and is available in English and German. Providing our clients with innovative research for the information technology of the future is an essential part of our company culture.
A few weeks ago, I met with a former colleague of mine, who had worked with me as a makeup artist in a beautiful hotel in Germany over 15 years ago. We were doing hand or facial treatments, where I even had the chance to paint the nails of no other than Alanis Morisette, who was giving a concert that day. The hotel closed many years ago and we talked about what we are doing now. She told me proudly that she has opened her own
beauty salon in her house, in the basement with great products, candles, flowers, and all that beauty stuff. She loves it. And you? She asked curiously. I said, I am doing research on Killer Robots. End of conversation.
Many people I tell about the topic of how AI and robotics are used in warfare, express reactions that fall somewhere between surprised, curious, scared or even irritated. I find these reactions come especially from moms, psychologists, business owners, or anyone else that is not working in the fields of computer sciences or the military.
Who am I to talk about killer robots? I am neither a computer expert nor an expert in politics, military or international law. I left the beauty industry to study business and psychology. I was working at a University when I attended a presentation by IBM, where I witnessed an AI, the Watson, defeating the world champion in the TV quiz show Jeopardy. I was fascinated, not only by the skills of the Watson, but the fear and resistance I saw in the eyes of other people.
That day I decided to take a deeper look into this bizarre fascination that surrounding artificial intelligence and robotics. Moreover, as a mother of two, I wanted to know how this technology will impact the future of my children. I envision a future where they are safe and protected. Where technology can advance alongside human values. When I first heard about AI in weapons, I was deeply disturbed, as this seemed to inflict on the deepest level with my need for peace and harmony. These so-called killer robots are machines that can detect, select and destroy a target (human or any other object) without any human oversight. But there was also this bizarre attraction and curiosity, which was proof enough, that this is not only worth exploring, but further, where I get the chance to take concrete action on the legacy I want to leave behind for future generations. […]