Autonomous weapons systems or ‘killer robots’ are causing concern for the international community, and now is the time for a preemptive ban.
As you may have read on our blog, SafeGround Inc became a member of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots in January 2019. The campaign is a global coalition of over 100 NGOs in 54 countries. If your organisation is interested in becoming a member please contact byrne.matilda.j[@]gmail.com
This page will harbour all of our updates and info regarding activities in Australia
If you (individual) or an organisation/company/association/group are interested in becoming involved with the campaign, want to contribute/support in any ways or have ideas please contact byrne.matilda.j[@]gmail.com
Please like our facebook page ‘Campaign to Stop Killer Robots – Australia’ as well as @stopkillerrobots for the global movement
For more information on the campaign please visit the website https://www.stopkillerrobots.org
UPCOMING EVENTS – watch this space
SYDNEY – Seminar, Is Now the Time to Ban Lethal Autonomous Weapons? (UNSW Kensington Campus)
Join our national campaign coordinator Matilda Byrne, AI expert Toby Walsh and philospher Jessica Whyte for a seminar designed to broach the issue from different perspectives and highlight the multidisciplinary relevance of killer robots.
Co-hosted by UNSW Grand Challenges of Technology in the 21st Century, for further info visit: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/is-now-the-time-to-ban-lethal-autonomous-weapons-systems-tickets-58682708561
MELBOURNE – Action and Campaign Brainstorm, Saturday 16 March 2pm
Join us at Federation Square for a photo stunt and idea-sharing for how we can grow our presence in Australia. We want our country and society to be a positive influence on this issue – anyone who is interested is welcome to join us from all backgrounds!
Check out the fb event HERE
OVERVIEW OF INTERNATIONAL PROGRESS AND AUSTRALIA’S POSITION
As we stand at a crossroads, with development and deployment of these weapons potentially not so far into the future, we seek instead commitment by countries to a prohibition treaty, those in relevant research and development industries to pledge not to contribute to the advancement of these weapons and to maintain meaningful human control in warfare.
The momentum globally to see a premptive ban is building but there are still many obstacles. From March 25-29, 2019, The CCW held its seventh meeting on lethal autonomous weapons systems. Only a minority of states opposed some kind of new legal instrument and you can read more on this in the following blog post. A majority of states support a legally binding instrument including the Non-Aligned Movement (a grouping of 120 countries) as well as the 29 who have explicitly called for a ban. For others a political declaration is seen as an appropriate way forward however, this fails to correspond with the urgency and gravity of the issue. The Group of Govermental Experts,in following its mandate to explore ‘options’ for future work, will meet again in August to finalise an outcome. In November, United Nations Secretary General stated ‘machines that have the power and the discretion to take human lives are politically unacceptable, are morally repugnant, and should be banned by international law’. The work of the CCW and GGE needs to step up in order to properly address the challenges that lethal autonomous weapons systems pose – legally, morally, ethically and to the world’s security.
Australia has failed to show support for prohibition of lethal autonomous weapons systems. Our country should strive to be a global leader in such efforts however, it maintains until there is a definition it is premature. As one of the only states who doesn’t support a new instrument of some kind (along with Russia, Israel, US, UK and India) its unambitious suggestion towards developing more common understandings and best practices is frankly disappointing and irresponsible.
The Australian Defence department has announced the formation of a flagship Defence Co-operative Research Centre (an initiative with defence, industry and research institutes). The first is for autonomous systems and has been awarded $50mil over 7 years. In addition, funding has been given to a research project seeking to make these systems ‘ethical’ which has already been debunked by all, leading, global AI researchers. AI has many positive applications, even in various military systems. Australia should be able to be an innovator and leader in this area but it is also then even more important that it highlights its support for regulation, and the creation of red lines which provide legal clarity, and certainty as to what is acceptable and what is not.
An open letter signed by 122 AI experts working in Australia was delivered to the Prime MInister in 2017. It urged the government to support the international process toward prohibition and take on a position of leadership. Australia’s continuing, disappointing position in spite of expert opinion and global momentum places us on the wrong side of progress.
Professor Toby Walsh of UNSW was the key organiser of the open letter, and also co-directed a pledge to neither participate in nor support the development, manufacture, trade or use of lethal autonomous weapons, signed by 150 companies and more than 2,400 individuals from 90 countries within the technical industry. Professor Toby Walsh’s leadership has been instrumental in highlighting opposition to LAWS in the AI field, and we were fortunate to have him speak in our seminar in Sydney.
You can access Professor Toby Walsh’s blog – The Future of AI where he shares and writes topical commentary including pieces featuring the killer robot debate.
You can stay informed by visiting his blog, and regularly checking this page, or sending your expression of interest to byrne.matilda.j[@] gmail.com to join a mailing list for updates about the campaign, international developments and local activities.