Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?
Robotics Earth The Military Technology

Russia Says It Will Ignore Any UN Ban of Killer Robots ( 132

According a report from Defense One, a United Nations meeting in Geneva earlier this month on lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS) was derailed when Russia said they would not adhere to any prohibitions on killer robots. "The U.N. meeting appeared to be undermined both by Russia's disinterest in it and the framework of the meeting itself," reports International Business Times. "Member nations attempted to come in and define what LAWS' systems would be, and what restrictions could be developed around autonomous war machines, but no progress was made." From the report: In a statement, Russia said that the lack of already developed war machines makes coming up with prohibitions on such machines difficult. "According to the Russian Federation, the lack of working samples of such weapons systems remains the main problem in the discussion on LAWS... this can hardly be considered as an argument for taking preventive prohibitive or restrictive measures against LAWS being a by far more complex and wide class of weapons of which the current understanding of humankind is rather approximate," read the statement.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Russia Says It Will Ignore Any UN Ban of Killer Robots

Comments Filter:
  • by Virtucon ( 127420 ) on Thursday November 30, 2017 @07:29PM (#55654419)

    If a nation truly wants to ignore the UN, it can ignore it. The repercussions for Russia are negligible because they're on the Security Council as a permanent member, they'll veto any resolutions that have any teeth attempting to sanction them.

    • by alvinrod ( 889928 ) on Thursday November 30, 2017 @08:20PM (#55654745)
      You act like that's a bad thing. If anything were binding you'd see plenty of states trying to use the UN as a cudgel, as in "Me and this army" types of approaches. Most countries don't have the political will for such things to begin with and even if enough did, the UN would tear itself apart in short order and likely lead to large scale conflict, the type of thing it was meant to prevent.

      It's far better that it's utterly toothless. At least it allows the world's countries to come together and air their grievances before everyone else.
    • by AvitarX ( 172628 )

      It sounds like they'll support said ban, and then ignore it for the upper edge.

      Not that they'll veto it.

  • Russia says, "STFU. We WILL build killer robots. Sooner the better!"

    • by Waffle Iron ( 339739 ) on Thursday November 30, 2017 @07:44PM (#55654521)

      I'm guessing the Russians aren't even going to bother building these robots themselves.

      The Russians might just wait until the US creates an army of killer robots, then hack into them and turn them against their owners. This strategy has already worked great when it was applied to our election system.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The Russians might just wait until the US creates an army of killer robots, then hack into them and turn them against their owners.

        No hacking required. If Futurama has taught me anything, it is that a robot will kill its creator and master for a bottle of vodka.

      • Step 1: Use mustard gas

        Step 2: Ban chemical weapons

        Step 3: Build large supplies of VX "just in case"

        Upshot-- Buy stock in robotics companies

      • Are you implying the result of the past election is detrimental to US interests?
      • And when inevitably the killer robots run amok, or there needs to be a false flag operation, foreign adversaries will make convenient scapegoats too. Start a narrative based on the most flimsiest of evidence and have your puppet news media relentlessly promote it, and in no time at all useful idiots will speak of it in de facto terms.
    • by aliquis ( 678370 )

      Seem pretty obvious the outcome would be like millions of mayflies with ak-47ks vs 10 million USD mini-sats with lasers or whatever. (maybe that actually is a good idea.. And my whole post is incorrect because of course the US would mount guns on that dog and such..)

  • by raymorris ( 2726007 ) on Thursday November 30, 2017 @07:32PM (#55654441) Journal

    It almost sounds like Russia might not want to ban the weapon they have been developing. Or, the headline and summary are complete bullshit. That happens a lot on Slashdot, misleading clickbait headlines.

    • seems more like they have looked at the ridiculousness of what was proposed and said... yeah no, count us out! Seems about as well thought out as Elon Musks comments on AI or that the planet Nibiru will crash into the earth. they don't even have a proper definition of what constitutes LAWS, but whatever definition the UN comes up with you can also guarantee it will exclude all current autonomous or remote weapons systems as neither the US nor any major power is going to start dismantling cruise missles, UAV
  • by Anonymous Coward
    LAWS should have the same sort of restrictions as mines (and other lethal non-autonomous weapons systems). However Russia isn't a signatory to the Ottawa Treaty either (along with China, India, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the US)
  • lethal autonomous weapons systems)

    Does anyone really feel strongly that these advances in autonomous robotics will not be exploited militarily for the extracurricular shortening of human life?

  • In all common sense this dispute comes to simple sane programming for autonomous devices. And Isaac Asimov's brilliant but simple rules of robotics. If these rules are broken so eventually will we lose control of them as AI becomes truly fully autonomous. But then again when in history of human conflict has war been a sane endeavor. Perhaps if their really are aliens watching us progress in silence then what they are waiting for is us as a species to evolve beyond war. It is perhaps the only way we can live
    • by Anonymous Coward

      As we reach the end of the level of population that this planet will support we either learn to live and work together or we are doomed as a species and will be replaced.

      Or the birth rates levels off, which I believe is currently happening.

  • ... is that once all you have are robots fighting other robots, there is no loss of life and so no reason for one side to surrender.

    Such a war could well last until the end of time.

    • resource depletion.
      It would become the new form of the castle siege.

      • Insightful.

        Yet, all war is in some form, resource depletion... it'll simply last longer if the resources are alternatives to human death.

      • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

        Its not new form at all. Resource depletion has always been and still is exactly what decides which side wins wars, ever since since the beginning of time.

        Usually the resource is money in the form of superior tech and sheer volume of supplies, and just the size of your mass of people that are prepared to line up and be cannon-fodder.

        PErfect example is how the Soviets took back Stalingrad in WW2. The Nazis were encircled and firing 1200 rounds a minute from each of hundreds of strategically placed and dug-in

        • My reference was to the siege, not that resource depletion was a new thing.
          In a traditional siege it was simply waiting out the opponent's stored provisions, there was little (if any) direct combat. a fully automated war would bring us back to little if any (human) direct combat, so would be again like a siege. Not the best analogy, but I think serviceable.

    • ... is that once all you have are robots fighting other robots, there is no loss of life and so no reason for one side to surrender.

      Such a war could well last until the end of time.

      Such a war would lack the horrors of war. Which is the problem of course. Wars need loss of life, horrific atrocities and anything else terrible to encourages both sides to negotiate. Robot wars would be pretty boring, they wouldn't last until the end of time either. People would realize they're not getting anywhere with just robots and start putting humans back in harms way to tip the balance back in their favor, then the other side does the same. Then we get the horrors of war, which will mean it wil

      • by AvitarX ( 172628 )

        Could you imagine how much better Vietnam would be right now if instead of massacres, and toxins, and armies rolling back and forth, they instead still had hordes of killer robots fighting?

        Or all of the land between Germany and Russia if instead of millions being killed in the war, there were still hordes of killer robots?

        War sucks, endless war with no soldier deaths probably sucks more.

      • Robot wars would be pretty boring

        It's not the same without Craig Charles.

      • Human leaders don't care about the horrors of war. They are frequently psychopathic types.
    • If no one is dying, who cares if the conflict goes on and on and on? I suppose there's an obvious economic hit to both sides as resources are devoted away from whatever else they would normally be used for in order to build more robots, but you have to compare that to the economic hit that already exists from human armies merely existing as well as the loss of human life that they invariably lead to in some capacity. If that's economically cheaper, then I don't see a reason why we should care.

      There will
      • The first country will build a robot to kill the humans in the opposing army. Eventually they will justify the killing of civilians using one of the typical excuses like destroying their will to continue the war or that the civilians are aiding the war effort.

        Except for chemical weapons, every weapon ever invented has been used to kill civilians (and Saddam may have crossed the line on that one).

    • by Anonymous Coward

      That would be even worse. Robots cost more $$$ than humans (usually). Remember war is about $ not human rights.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      It won't be that neat and tidy. ICBMs and hypersonic missiles area already impossible to reliably shoot down. The robots will target humans more than other robots, simply because the other robots will be too stealthy or too fast to do much about. It won't be like Terminator, it will be you sitting in your office writing code for a military asset management system and suddenly it explodes.

    • Sounds like a Star Trek episode.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This is a good thing - or rather, it could have been much worse.

    Anyone remember the Washington Naval Treaty? World powers sign agreement to limit the size of battleships, and several powers secretly ignored it, most notably Japan. This arguably contributed to the length of the Pacific theatre as the US had to play a little more catch-up than they otherwise would have.

    At least Russia is being upfront about it.

  • There you go. Russia says no need to worry, and Trump thinks he's a great president.
  • Too Late (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 30, 2017 @09:57PM (#55655263)

    There already are "killer robots". What do you call a Tomahawk cruise missile that can fly hundreds of miles and independently identify it's target then dive in and blow up. What do you call an AEGIS cruiser in full "auto" mode that identifies threats and fires off missiles as required to neutralize them. The only thing worth discussing is exactly how much automation would be permitted.

    • by rapjr ( 732628 )
      Russia's fighters can be flown by remote control. With all the sensors and computers on board a fighter it would seem possible to turn it into an autonomous weapon. The first use of small, cheap autonomous weapons that can track specific individuals will certainly change the landscape. Big autonomous weapons either already exist or just require a software upgrade. If software is the only difference then verification of any treaty becomes almost impossible (maybe spies could detect field tests? Maybe no
    • by aliquis ( 678370 )

      But those missiles look nothing like terminator!
      They are missiles!

      Missiles are ok!
      Terminator is a scary future! ..

    • Re:Too Late (Score:5, Informative)

      by mrwireless ( 1056688 ) on Friday December 01, 2017 @09:42AM (#55657105)
      Samsung sells the SGR-A1 machine gun sentry bot that has a fully autonomous mode, meaning it kills anything that comes in front of it. []

      South Korea uses it at the border with North Korea.
    • by q4Fry ( 1322209 )

      There already are "killer robots".

      Came here to say this. There was even (at least) one for strategic nuclear weapons, [] developed by the USSR. Supposedly, it is still around but switched off. This makes the irony of "We have to build a weapons system in order to ban it" even more apparent.

      Furthermore, any nation-state with a decent hacker cadre already has "Lethal Automated Weapons Systems." If a hack can kill someone, it's a lethal system. Any code monkey can take an existing hack and automate the trigger. All that is open to debate is wheth

  • by nehumanuscrede ( 624750 ) on Thursday November 30, 2017 @10:18PM (#55655367)

    Show of hands . . . .

    Who here believes ANY COUNTRY is going to adhere to a " terminator " ban ?

    I'm pretty sure none of them will. . . . . they just won't be as blatant about it :D

    • Who here believes ANY COUNTRY is going to adhere to a " terminator " ban ?

      It seems Namibia and Mauritania do adhere to the ban.

  • ... we first have to build the Terminator so that we understand how to regulate it.

  • Has any non-existing weapon ever been banned?
  • by Tom ( 822 )

    At least they say it openly.

    You think any UN treaty would stop the US military? The only effect would be that the research is done secretly. You simply cannot afford to not have these things, at least on paper, when the enemy potentially does.

  • Since 1991 I've seldom felt so proud of my country.
    as when reading this news.

  • by Archon ( 13753 ) on Friday December 01, 2017 @10:55AM (#55657427)

    Anyone who thinks differently is deluding themselves into thinking this world is something it's not. In war, it's the winner who gets to write the rules, and in war for survival, any country is going to use every resource humanly possible to do so.

  • This is no different that a bunch of legislators passing yet another gun control measure.

Karl's version of Parkinson's Law: Work expands to exceed the time alloted it.