Sunday, January 6, 2013 | Latest audio lessons → VOA Learning English
A Call to Ban 'Killer Robots'
An international rights group has called on world governments to ban weaponized robots. Human Rights Watch recently released a report called, "Losing Humanity: The Case against Killer Robots." It warns that fully autonomous weapons systems could increase the risk to civilians during armed conflicts.
Militaries around the world are using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, also called drones, more and more. The drones gather intelligence, help identify targets, and fire weapons, but only if a human operator gives the order.
Human Rights Watch fears that within 30 years developments in technology could remove the need for human operators. David Mepham is the United Kingdom director of Human Rights Watch. He says his group is concerned that robots will not be able to tell the difference between civilians and combatants.
The United States and other militaries have stated they have no plans to remove human supervision over the decision to use deadly force.
Human Rights Watch says a treaty would help to guarantee that this does not happen. The group says a ban on what it calls "killer robots" would be similar to current bans on the use of landmines and cluster bombs.
Some experts say that all autonomous technology should be discussed. For example, France sent remote-controlled robots to Japan last year to help contain the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima power center. This was a job that most people would agree was better left to machines.
For VOA Learning English, I'm Alex Villarreal.