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Amnesty International Wants U.N. to Ban ‘Killer Robots’

The Background on the Obama Administration's Decision to Sell Drones 1:53

As world governments meet in Geneva to discuss the U.N.'s Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons on Thursday, Amnesty International is imploring them to ban killer robots.

"Killer robots are weapons systems which, once activated, can select, attack, kill and injure human targets without a person in control," Rasha Abdul Rahim, adviser on arms control for Amnesty International, said in a statement.

"Once the stuff of dystopian science fiction, these weapons — also known as 'fully autonomous weapon systems' — will soon become fact."

Read More: Jody Williams Helped Ban Landmines. Can She Stop Killer Robots?

The organization warned that robots could be used by repressive governments to police their own people, make it easier to enter wars, and create an "accountability gap" where nobody is held responsible when a drone kills an innocent person.

"Allowing robots to have power over life-and-death decisions crosses a fundamental moral line," Rahim wrote. "They lack emotion, empathy and compassion, and their use would violate the human rights to life and dignity."

The Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons currently bans the use of landmines, incendiary weapons, booby traps and blinding laser weapons.

Read More: Future Tech? Autonomous Killer Robots Are Already Here

Proponents of autonomous weapon systems have argued that technology such as facial recognition software and advanced targeting systems — plus the fact that machines don't panic or get angry — could actually reduce civilian casualties during wartime.