To no one’s surprise, United Nations discussions on the regulation of autonomous weapons have stalled. Last year, the global pandemic caused delays, with only one week of discussions—partly in Geneva, Switzerland and partly virtual—taking place from September 21-25. November’s annual meeting of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), at which the 2021 schedule for discussions on autonomous weapons would have been set, was cancelled.
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The United States is at the forefront of advancements in autonomous swarming technologies. A U.S. government-appointed panel has even said that the country has a “moral imperative” to develop weapons driven by artificial intelligence (AI). While the morality of this imperative can be debated, there can be no doubt that the technological advancements of the world’s most advanced military warrant …
According to a recent report by Canada’s privacy commissioner Daniel Therrien and three provincial counterparts, Clearview AI has broken Canada’s privacy laws. Therrien told reporters that the company’s technology and actions amounted to an illegal mass surveillance of Canadians. While Clearview AI no longer operates in Canada, its recent activities indicate the challenges that Canada faces in regulating facial recognition …
During a week of virtual sessions hosted in September at the Geneva offices of the United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, Canada remained silent. Not once in the last year has Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs focused on autonomous weapons when explaining Canada’s foreign policy priorities.
With a global pandemic and a still undecided U.S. election forming a dramatic backdrop, on November 6, the German Foreign Office hosted a virtual conference, “Capturing Technology. Rethinking Arms Control.” This event, combined with an experts’ preparatory workshop on November 5, were used to shine a light on the transformational capabilities of new technologies on both “old” issues of arms control, such as nuclear weapons, and new ones, including autonomous weapons and drone swarms.
Any lingering doubts about the centrality of drones in modern warfare vanished as the world watched Azerbaijani military drones inflict serious damage on the Armenian military in the recent conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. Now some European and American defence analysts are asking if the rising use of drones is rendering some military equipment, such as tanks, obsolete.
During several years of discussions on autonomous weapons at the United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), several arguments against their regulation have surfaced. Some seem intentionally misleading, while others are out of touch with the rapid development of emerging technologies and the current trends in academic research and analysis.
On September 28, Ploughshares Senior Researchers Jessica West and Branka Marijan participated in an online panel on the future of peace and conflict hosted by the Balsillie School of International Affairs. Event description From the invention of the machine-gun, to the proliferation of nuclear weapons, to the use of armed drones, technological advances in war craft have transformed geopolitical rivalries …
Want to learn more about killer robots? Are you in university or high school? Join us for an interactive discussion! Killer robots, or autonomous weapons, are a very real concern for international security. We will discuss the issue of autonomous weapons, where the international discussion stands, Canada’s role and what civil society organizations are doing.