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UN Report: Stop Building Killer Robots

  • World
  • 05.03.13 09:17 AM EDT

A new UN report veers eerily close to the world of a science fiction novel: it calls for a moratorium on the production of killer robots until more regulatory bodies can be put into place. In its intro, the report states "Robots should not have the power of life or death over human beings." (Touché, UN.)

The report, published April 9 2013 and recently posted online, is by the UN Human Rights Commission and deals with the legal and philosohpical issues around robots that can kill human beings without human input. The report will be highlighted at a UN conference on May 29 and cites weapons developed by the US, South Korea, Britain, Israel and Japan that can act autonomously or semi-autonomously. 

The AP write-up of the UN report dates the discussion of muderous androids back to a 1942 Isaac Asimov story, "Runaround," which says: "‘’A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm." The line is quite similar to the langauge used in the UN report -- it's also, of course, from a work of fiction.