Short ICRAC Statement at the April 2018 CCW GGE

Posted on 10 April 2018 by nsharkey

International Committee for Robot Arms Control
Statement to the UN GGE Meeting 2018
Delivered by Prof. Noel Sharkey, on 10 April 2018

Mr. Chairperson,

There have been very useful and interesting discussions this morning.

I speak here as chair of an academic NGO: the International Committee for Robot Arms Control (ICRAC) and as a member of the scientific community in the field of Artificial Intelligence and Robotics with specialty in Machine Learning.

We stress again that it would be confusing to broaden the discussion of LAWS into issues about Artificial Intelligence or weapons with emerging intelligence. By chasing definitions of LAWS down the rabbit hole of AI, we remove ourselves from the key issues that need to be urgently discussed here. The definition extracted from ICRC, and echoed by a number of states this morning, is concerned with weapons that have autonomy in the critical functions of target selection and the application of force. This is sufficient for our definitional purposes here: decisions about target selection and the application of force are delegated to a machine. Let me highlight that it does not matter what techniques or computing methods are used to create autonomy in these critical functions.

What is important here are questions about the nature of human control required and acceptable to ensure compliance with international law. It is key that we get this right. You can read more about this in ICRAC’s new working paper Guidelines for the Human Control of Weapons Systems that will be delivered at Wednesday’s side event. We support those states who have stated that the focus of this meeting should be on human control of weapons systems and human-machine interaction. In this way we can make real progress this week and protect our future no matter what the technological developments.

Noel SharkeyPhD, DSc FIET, FBCS CITP FRIN FRSA is Professor of AI and Robotics and Professor of Public Engagement at the University of Sheffield and was an EPSRC Senior Media Fellow (2004-2010).

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