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'Robots Are Not Taking Over,' Says Head of UN Body of Autonomous Weapons (theguardian.com) 77

An anonymous reader writes: Robots are not taking over the world," the diplomat leading the first official talks on autonomous weapons assured on Friday, seeking to head off criticism over slow progress towards restricting the use of so-called "killer robots." The United Nations was wrapping up an initial five days of discussions on weapons systems that can identify and destroy targets without human control, which experts say will soon be battle ready. "Ladies and gentlemen, I have news for you: the robots are not taking over the world. Humans are still in charge," said India's disarmament ambassador, Amandeep Gill, who chaired the CCW meeting. "I think we have to be careful in not emotionalizing or dramatizing this issue," he told reporters in response to criticism about the speed of the conference's work. Twenty-two countries, mostly those with smaller military budgets and lesser technical knowhow, have called for an outright ban, arguing that automated weapons are by definition illegal as every individual decision to launch a strike must be made by a human. Gill underscored that banning killer robots, or even agreement on rules, remained a distant prospect.
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'Robots Are Not Taking Over,' Says Head of UN Body of Autonomous Weapons

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  • Translation: (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 17, 2017 @09:25PM (#55574245)

    Robots are taking over.

  • by El Cubano ( 631386 ) on Friday November 17, 2017 @09:25PM (#55574247)

    Robots are not taking over the world," the diplomat leading the first official talks on autonomous weapons assured on Friday, seeking to head off criticism over slow progress towards restricting the use of so-called "killer robots."

    That is precisely what a killer robot would say. By the time people figure out there is a problem, it is too late and SkyNet has taken over.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 17, 2017 @09:27PM (#55574257)

    So what he really means is that the people who control the back doors in the autonomous weapons are taking over.

    Funny how context and what isn't said, can impart so much information.

    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      So what he really means is that the people who control the back doors in the autonomous weapons are taking over.

      Assuming you should worry less about the people controlling the front door like Putin, Xi Jinping, Trump, Erdogan and so on. I'm not so worried about Skynet and the "usual suspects" for backdoors are the same people who control massive military resources of their own. That script kiddies or IS could hack into key military systems and launch ICBMs doesn't seem very plausible. What I'm worried about is essentially what technology has done everywhere else, that relatively few people armed with advanced technol

  • by Templer421 ( 4988421 ) on Friday November 17, 2017 @09:49PM (#55574323)

    I Am afraid I Can't do that."

  • So they took five days to figure this out, eh? I bet the restaurants during the conference were fantastic. Let's take a look at what the conference really decided: the need for an even better and longer conference next year.

    He said countries are likely to meet on the issue again for two weeks next year for further discussions focused on how autonomous weapons work and how their use should be controlled.

    "I am very happy with the start we made," he said.

    It is at this point I am reminded of Blazing Saddle

    • I didn't get a harrumph out of that guy.

      I sometimes wonder if Mel Brooks, Zemeckis and Bob Gale had crystal balls and were able to see into 2017
  • Twenty-two countries, mostly those with smaller military budgets and lesser technical knowhow, have called for an outright ban, arguing that automated weapons are by definition illegal as every individual decision to launch a strike must be made by a human.

    A bunch of nobodies are not going to convince the superpowers to agree. The EU, US, UK, China, Russia will not accept being told that they cannot develop the military technologies that they decide they need. Nuclear, chemical, biological... still got em.

    • SuperpowerS, plural? There have only been two superpowers, the USA and USSR, and one of them is in the grave. It is on this occasion that I am reminded of one of the finest actors of all of film, Andre the Giant, who said: "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."
      • If China is not a superpower, it is surely on the verge of becoming one. And "you keep using that word" was Mandy Patinkin (Inigo Montoya), not Andre the Giant (Fezzik).

      • by HiThere ( 15173 )

        If you say there's only one superpower, I'd say that one is China. The US has been declining rapidly. China may not use it's power in the same way, but it's been using it globally for quite awhile, and without (yet) building up the same kinds of enmity that the US has been.

        That said, China is primarily an economic power rather than a military power. It's military power probably currently is below that of the US. It would probably need to purchase assistance from Russia to match us. But Russia would pro

        • China has one, singular, military base overseas. That's not a superpower. It's not even close. Maybe after they pass up France we can revisit the conversation. China has no global power and is hence not a superpower.
          • by HiThere ( 15173 )

            That's a foolish argument. China has as many foreign bases as it wants to have. If they want more, they can easily get them. But they're more interested in economic dominance, and they're pretty much there. In fact, in a lot of areas they *are* there. Military is only one aspect, and it's not the most important beyond the ability to defend your turf...which China has.

            It's been clear that the US was on a downhill slide for decades, but it's been unclear who would be the successor power. China is better

            • That's a foolish argument. China has as many foreign bases as it wants to have. If they want more, they can easily get them.

              Whaaa? Huh? In order to be a superpower, you need global reach. China doesn't have it. It's a regional power. Hell, they're hemmed in by three solid lines of defense. Look at a map sometime and draw a line from Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Philippines, to Vietnam. Pretty solid, and that's just the first line keeping China boxed in.

              The US has the Strait of Malacca, anchored by stal

    • by Jzanu ( 668651 )
      There are existing and enforced arms treaties dealing with unsupervised munitions. Land mines and cluster bombs are still the greater danger due to sheer quantity in active use today, deployed in past decades, and stockpiled for decades of future use. All of the countries implied in your list support those except for the US on cluster bombs because the have so many from older stockpiles. It should stop all use as there are better alternatives that don't kill indiscriminately after hostilities end.
  • The contractors just took the funding and spent it on parties, gifts, holidays and home renovations?
    So builders of UAV, USV, UGS, UMS grants just did nothing for the past years?
    No more thinking about the Unmanned Systems Integrated Roadmap?
    "Pentagon Issues 25-Year Unmanned Systems Roadmap" (January 3, 2014)
    https://www.ainonline.com/avia... [ainonline.com]
    • by dcw3 ( 649211 )

      Unmanned doesn't mean robotic. The Reapers and Global Hawks mentioned in your linked article are all controlled by pilots (yes, real pilots) on the ground.

      As for your contractor comment...WTF are you talking about? And I'm saying that as a contractor of 35+ yrs.

  • Yeah, right (Score:4, Funny)

    by Picodon ( 4937267 ) on Friday November 17, 2017 @10:54PM (#55574593)

    “Ladies and gentlemen, I have news for you: the robots are not taking over the world. Humans are still in charge,” said India's disarmament ambassador.

    Soon after, flummoxed by the attitude of skeptics, the ambassador angrily threw a bus error exception and proceeded to reboot on the convention floor.

  • by RyanFenton ( 230700 ) on Friday November 17, 2017 @11:12PM (#55574709)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

    Well produced, and worth watching if you have a taste for almost-not-fiction science fiction.

    Ryan Fenton

  • They would say that.

  • Nothing to see here folks! Move along. Pay no attention to that Robot behind the curtain...........
  • Because of their greed for money and power expect killerbots to emerge from 'wallstreet'. Already finance is more powerfull than the UN. Future: pay the racket or be killed by bots.

  • ... he said confidently, while flipping the switch labeled "hand over control to robots."

  • by nospam007 ( 722110 ) * on Saturday November 18, 2017 @05:09AM (#55575737)

    "Ladies and gentlemen, I have news for you: the robots are not taking over the world. Humans are still in charge," ...until we go into SETTINGS and flip the button for AUTOMATIC KILLINGS to 'ON'.

  • by Jim Sadler ( 3430529 ) on Saturday November 18, 2017 @07:17AM (#55575999)
    Send the fool a drone with a small explosive charge and maybe he will change his mind.
  • what does that at all mean? If I select a target by seeing it and tell robot to do the job now by pressing fire button which consequently release the high energy projectile to penetrate the meatball I am clearly in charge or? What about the photo and other data that led to target selection being produced by data mining AI? Is a human still in charge? What if we automate that one human out of picture and put another one in front of data mining machine authorizing the selection of meatbags to be eliminated. W
  • by Gibgezr ( 2025238 ) on Saturday November 18, 2017 @09:52AM (#55576473)

    Can we all just pause and appreciate that headline for a moment? I mean, I was both so pleased and so disturbed all at the same time. We truly live in a wonderous era.

    • by HiThere ( 15173 )

      Odd, my first reaction was "What would you expect someone in his position to say? Follow the money."
      I guess I'm a bit more cynical.

  • by seven of five ( 578993 ) on Saturday November 18, 2017 @10:06AM (#55576523)
    For robots to "take over," don't AIs first need intention? ie. goals and a motive?
    As far as I know, software's still just a tool with no more self-motivation than a screwdriver.
    Given that, it's all about who owns the tools.
    • Ah ... but if there is one point that has been driven home hard this year it is that a tiny amount of intelligence with a simple and obvious motive is all that is needed to take over in some cases.
    • by HiThere ( 15173 )

      If it doesn't have goals and a motive then it's not a robot, it's a telefactor. It's fair to call a self-driving car a robot, but not to call a remote control machine gun, because in the case of the remote control machine gun the control is from a separate entity (which could, to be fair, be a robot).

      Now I'm not sure that we don't have murderous autonomous robots currently. Reports of an armed automatic sentry built in Japan have been a bit vague, but it could be a real robot. But currently the military

      • by dcw3 ( 649211 )

        This gets into the misuse of other words like hacker and drone and Kleenex. Answer: Nobody gives a shit, an the public is still gonna call em robots.

    • by dcw3 ( 649211 )

      Well, the Chinese just had a robot pass a medical exam. If there's not enough tech in that to make automated weaponry, I don't know what qualifies.
      https://www.msn.com/en-us/vide... [msn.com]

  • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Saturday November 18, 2017 @10:12AM (#55576541)
    I'm worried about a small group of asshole humans using them to oppress me and everyone else for eternity. Right not the aristocracy has to treat a small population well or they get disposed. Robots eliminate even that.
  • Ladies and gentlemen, I have news for you: the robots are not taking over the world. Humans are still in charge

    That sounds exactly like what someone would say right before the robots actually take over. :-)

  • Robots have been taking over ever since the industrial revolution began.

    Initially, it was mechanical robots in the form of factory machines, which allowed one person to do the work that used to require dozens or hundreds. The Gutenberg moveable type press allowed a single worker to replace dozens of printing plate carvers, for example.

    Each generation of new robots has gotten more and more sophisticated. Farm equipment like combines each replaced many workers. Factories themselves became automated.

    The only d

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