In the trenchesMost people object to fully autonomous weapons: Survey
Public opinion is against the use of autonomous weapons capable of identifying and destroying targets without human input, according to a new survey. “It has been said that future wars will be fought with completely automated systems,” said one of the researchers behind the survey. “The survey results clearly show that more public discussion is necessary so that we can make intelligent decisions about robotic weapon technologies.”
Public opinion is against the use of autonomous weapons capable of identifying and destroying targets without human input, according to a new survey by researchers at the University of British Columbia.
More than eight out of every ten individuals surveyed said such robots should not be used for aggression, and 67 percent said they should be banned across the planet.
UBC reports that more than a thousand people from fifty-four countries, including the United States, Canada, South Korea, Mexico, and the United Kingdom answered the survey. It was conducted by the Open Roboethics initiative (ORi), a UBC-based group that studies issues concerning robotics and artificial intelligence.
“It has been said that future wars will be fought with completely automated systems,” said AJung Moon, ORi spokesperson and a Ph.D. candidate in mechanical engineering at UBC. “The survey results clearly show that more public discussion is necessary so that we can make intelligent decisions about robotic weapon technologies.”
If pressed to make a choice, most people (71 percent) said they would prefer that their country use remotely operated weapons — such as the military drones already being used by a few armies — instead of fully autonomous weapons. Many (56 percent) would prefer that autonomous weapons never be developed or used at all.
The survey, one of the largest on the subject, was presented at the United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) Meeting of States Parties which met 12-13 November. The CCW bans or restricts the use of specific types of weapons that could cause unnecessary or unjustifiable suffering to combatants or affect civilians indiscriminately.
“Robotic weapon technology is constantly marching forward, so it’s crucial that we have an understanding of public perception and opinion on the matter. This survey certainly contributes to the growing body of information,” said Machiel Van der Loos, associate director of UBC’s human-robot interaction research group, the Collaborative Advanced Robotics and Intelligent Systems (CARIS) Laboratory.
The survey, The Ethics and Governance of Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems, was funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. Visit http://www.openroboethics.org/laws_survey to download copies of the report or to participate in the survey, which will continue to collect data on an ongoing basis.