A new report adopted by The World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST) in September 2017 addresses the ethical and legal issues of armed robotic systems and their implications for the changing nature of warfare.
The World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST) is a UNESCO body mandated to formulate ethical principles that could provide decision-makers with criteria that extend beyond purely economic considerations. The President of Pugwash is ex officio a member of COMEST, and from 2012 to 2017 John Finney deputised for Ambassador Dhanapala on the Commission.
Following an initiative from Pugwash, the Commission tasked itself to explore the ethical implications of modern robotics. Of particular Pugwash interest are the implications with respect to armed robotic systems (‘drones’) and autonomous weapons: the resulting report, adopted by COMEST in September 2017, addresses ethical and legal issues of these systems, and their implications for the changing nature of warfare. The Commission’s recommendations include the complete prohibition of the development and use of autonomous weapons.
Read the full Report of COMEST on Robotics Ethics.