Tuesday, June 25, 2013 | Latest audio lessons → VOA Learning English
A Call for a Ban on 'Killer Robots'
From VOA Learning English, this is the Technology Report. A United Nations special investigator recently called for a ban on the production and use of lethal autonomous robotics, known as LARs. Critics say these "killer robots" may one day choose and strike targets independently, without human direction. UN official Christof Heyns says the lack of human commanders raises many moral and ethical questions about LARs. He spoke in May at a meeting of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland.He says the taking of any human life deserves a basic level of consideration.
Mr. Heyns says the deployment of machines to kill people may be unacceptable because the world has yet to agree on legal responsibility in such cases. He says "killer robots" should not have the power of life and death over human beings. He disagrees with people who say robots could help reduce the possibility of what they call riskless wars. Mr. Heyns says people make mistakes. They can act out of fear or be driven by revenge or cruelty. But, unlike robots, they can also act out of compassion. He says humans consider many different things in each situation they face.
Drone aircraft have also been a point of debate in recent years. These vehicles are piloted by a person on the ground. Many countries have drone programs. Drone strikes have helped the United States in its battle against militants in countries such as Afghanistan and Pakistan. In May, President Obama said the use of drone strikes must be held to high standards. He called the use of drones effective. But he noted that the new technology raises what he called "profound questions."
For VOA Learning English, I'm Carolyn Presutti.