Russia Will Not Allow United Nations to Regulate Autonomous Weapon Systems

In no uncertain terms, Russia has stated that it will not adhere to any regulation or prohibition of robotic weapons of war.

Russia essentially shut down a United Nations meeting in Geneva on the subject of lethal autonomous weapon systems (LAWS) by categorically refusing to participate in any restriction or ban on the development or use of such weapons.

Their official statement amounts to a plain attempt to obscure the issue, claiming that “LAWS” is too broad a term, and that is presently unnecessary. Both of these points are demonstrably untrue, as evidenced by virtually every other developed nation participating. However, the obstruction is beneficial to Russia — a point that some in the Geneva meeting readily pointed out. One anonymous attendee simply stated that “the Russians are not interested in making progress on this.” But Russia says:

According to the Russian Federation, the lack of working samples of such weapons systems remains the main problem in the discussion on LAWS…this can hardly be considered as an argument for taking preventive prohibitive or restrictive measures against LAWS being a by far more complex and wide class of weapons of which the current understanding of humankind is rather approximate.

They also claim that making a distinction between military and civilian use of autonomous systems will somehow stall the progress of artificial intelligence development in general.

The one notable exception to the otherwise general consensus was none other than the chairperson of the Group of Governmental Experts, Indian Ambassador Amandeep Singh Gil. Multiple attendees lay blame for the efficacy with which the Russians derailed the talks at the feet of Gil for both his comments and echoing position paper.

Meanwhile, Russia’s own Kalashnikov weapons manufacturer is giving the lie to their claims, with the development of very real and quite distinct robots of mass destruction. Convenient, then, that its government would be so resistant to calling them what they are.

Follow Nate Church @Get2Church on Twitter for the latest news in gaming and technology, and snarky opinions on both.

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