Japan’s government will publicly back restrictions on developing robots that can kill without human intervention at an upcoming U.N. conference, departing from their usual policy.
The Japanese government already opposed the creation of lethal autonomous weapons systems, or LAWS, which are robots empowered with artificial intelligence that equips them to kill human beings without the direction of another human. Japan initially cautioned against regulating the development of LAWS on the basis that such regulations could hinder the creation of advanced but more benign artificial intelligence.
“We do not intend to develop any lethal weapon that is completely autonomous and functions without human control,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said, according to The Asahi Shimbun.
Japanese officials will announce a policy shift, however, at the U.N.’s Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) in Geneva from March 25 to 29, calling for restrictions on LAWS and a possible global ban on them in the future, according to Japan Today. Japanese officials hope to take a lead role in conversations about international regulation of LAWS, given what they see as a current stall in conversations about the development of artificial intelligence.
Japanese officials are expected to submit not only a summary of their views on the matter of A.I. development, but also a call to establish an international panel of A.I. technical experts.
Austria, Brazil and Chile, led a coalition of 26 countries in 2018 in calling for a treaty prohibiting of the development of LAWS at the CCW, but the U.S., Israel, Australia, South Korea, Russia and several other countries blocked the proposed treaty, arguing that such a prohibition would be premature and that there are potential advantages to developing what critics have called “killer robots.”
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