Terrorists are working to build armies of artificially intelligent killer robots capable of slaughtering vast numbers of innocent civilians.
That’s the terrifying claim from a piece of authoritative research published by the United Nations, which recently held an urgent meeting to discuss the threat posed by murderous machines.
Experts from dozens of countries convened in Geneva to consider the grim implications of “Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems” (LAWS) which are capable of killing without needing to have a human at the controls.
These sorts of machines are famous from films like The Terminator, but in reality killer robots could be anything from a smart landmine to a drone fitted with machine guns.
The UN wants to set strict guidelines governing the use of killer robots to make sure they don’t end up being used as indiscriminate weapons of war, but it said terrorists would never abide by these guidelines.
“Whilst these [robotic killing] systems might be available to technologically advanced countries in an initial phase, it is likely that they will proliferate,” it said in a report.
“Terrorists are in fact actively seeking such systems,” the report continued.
“Illegal transfers might mean that LAWS would become available to non-state actors [terrorists]. It was noted there may be no incentive for such actors to abide by international norms and this may further increase global or regional instability.”
The world is on the edge of a robotics revolution which is expected to see machines take on humans roles and potentially cause unemployment on a truly catastrophic scale.
But as robot tech becomes commonplace, it could end up being hijacked by terrorists and used to kill innocent people.