Professor Ian Kerr has been busy recently promoting the international “Campaign to Stop Killer Robots,” a movement led by coalition of non-governmental organizations from around the world working to ban fully autonomous weapons.
The coalition’s principal concern is to oppose the development of robotic weapons that would be able to choose and fire on targets on their own, without any human intervention. The campaign, which included public events on April 28 and 29, 2014, comes in advance of international discussions about autonomous weapons at the United Nations in May.
On April 28, the Canadian chapter of the “Campaign to Stop Killer Robots” held a public event at Ottawa’s City Hall that included a question and answer session; and on April 28, key players in the movement held a press conference to provide an in-depth look at autonomy in weapon systems and outline their concerns.
Members of the Canadian coalition include the following:
- Ian Kerr, Professor, University of Ottawa, and Canada Research Chair for Ethics, Law and Technology (Ottawa, ON)
- Mary Wareham. Advocacy Director – Arms Division, Human Rights Watch, and Global Coordinator for the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots (Washington, DC)
- Peter Asaro, Assistant Professor, The New School for Public Engagement, Co-Founder and Co-Chair of the International Committee for Robot Arms Control (New York, NY)
- Paul Hannon, Executive Director, Mines Action Canada (Ottawa, ON)
On April 27, Prof. Kerr authored an op-ed for the Ottawa Citizen entitled “Keep killer robots fictional,” in which he outlines his moral and philosophical concerns about the voluntary relinquishment of human control to machines. “The deployment of fully autonomous weapons,” writes Prof. Kerr, “entails that we delegate crucial moral decisions of life and death away from robust human decision-makers in favour of relatively limited software algorithms.”