FJP: Last week we highlighted a Slate article that looked into the morality of war and robots. In particular, that autonomous war “machines are not, and cannot, be legally accountable for their actions.”
“Losing Humanity” is the first major publication about fully autonomous weapons by a nongovernmental organization and is based on extensive research into the law, technology, and ethics of these proposed weapons. It is jointly published by Human Rights Watch and the Harvard Law School International Human Rights Clinic.
Human Rights Watch and the International Human Rights Clinic called for an international treaty that would absolutely prohibit the development, production, and use of fully autonomous weapons. They also called on individual nations to pass laws and adopt policies as important measures to prevent development, production, and use of such weapons at the domestic level.
Fully autonomous weapons do not yet exist, and major powers, including the United States, have not made a decision to deploy them. But high-tech militaries are developing or have already deployed precursors that illustrate the push toward greater autonomy for machines on the battlefield. The United States is a leader in this technological development. Several other countries – including China, Germany, Israel, South Korea, Russia, and the United Kingdom – have also been involved. Many experts predict that full autonomy for weapons could be achieved in 20 to 30 years, and some think even sooner.
Nieman Lab published a story today on HRW’s deputy executive director for external relations, Carrol Bogert, a former journalist for Newsweek.
Here’s what Justin Ellis wrote:
Mimicking the look and quality of journalism increases the chances of their message getting across, Bogert said. “It’s meant to look like a wire service story, so that when it arrives in the inbox of a wire service reporter, it moves seamlessly into the mainstream media,” she said.
And it’s working. Bogert said HRW’s media mentions rose steadily in 2012, appearing in The New York Times almost daily. Stories from Human Rights Watch appear in Google News alongside other headlines. Broadcasters like the BBC and Britain’s Channel 4 have aired its video. They’ve also won a Peabody award for their multimedia.
If you like documentaries, this is for you. A few weeks ago we went to the Human Rights Watch Film Festival in New York and met Micha X. Peled, a San Francisco-based filmmaker who recently finished his last of three films on globalization and its varying effects on mankind. We asked him to tell us about his latest work, Bitter Seeds.
In the film Micha follows a strange crisis in India where, for many farmers, a foreign monopoly on the local seed market has inflated prices and brought on massive local debt. The situation become so dire that, on average, a farmer kills himself every thirty minutes.
The film follows a farming season and a young girl, Manjusha, who wants to become a journalist and tell the world about what’s happening to people in her part of India.