A recently published report named Off the Leash: The Development of Autonomous Military Drones in the UK reveals that the UK’s Defense and Security Accelerator (DASA) is funding research for autonomous lethal drone.
The report indicates that the Ministry of Defense (MoD) funded many autonomous weapon programs. Among these projects, the work on the Taranis drone was highlighted: it is the culmination of more than ten years working by BAE Systems, a British multinational defense, security, and aerospace company. The Taranis drone is valued at 200 million pounds with the capability to fly, plan the route, locate and kill target without direct human input.
Despite concrete evidence, the MoD denied its involvement in developing this weapon: “There is no intent within the MoD to develop weapon systems that operate entirely without human input. Our weapons will always be under human control as an absolute guarantee of oversight, authority, and accountability,” said MoD representative.
The result of the study causes the fear of these robots’ deployment in the future and potential arms race to take place. “Without a ban, there will be an arms race to develop increasingly capable autonomous weapons. These will be weapons of mass destruction. One programmer will be able to control a whole army.” said Toby Walsh, Scientia Professor of AI at UNSW Sydney.
In response to the threat, a global consensus in AI development is needed to prevent development of weapons or technologies that are likely to cause harm to humanity or have purpose of causing or facilitating injury to human. At the moment, together with the AIWS Standards and Practice Committee, the Michael Dukakis Institution is also taking actions to draw the attention of UN, OECD countries to call for an AI Peace Treaty that prohibits the creation, stockpiling, and use of those weapons.