How inter-faith leaders charted new course for anti-killer robots campaign

August 14, 2020
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For the first time in the history of the country, inter-faith leaders met in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, to initiate a discourse on awareness and consultation on Lethal Autonomous Weapon System (LAWS) in preparation to further taking the Stop Killer Robots campaign to relevant authorities within the country.

The discourse which held at the Institute of Church and Society, Samonda, was organised by the Christian Council of Nigeria and the World Council of Churches and it drew participants from all religious groups as well as civil society organisations and the media.

In his opening remarks, Very Rev. Evans Onyemara of the Christian Council of Nigeria said it is heartwarming to be a part of the novel process of enlightening people in this part of the world about issues that have to do with killer robots, describing the use of such as inhumane and unethical.

According to him, the world is suffering from the effect of what some people projected somewhere and there is a need for inter-faith collaboration in sensitising the people on why they should lend their voice to the campaign to stop the unnecessary suffering that people go through for what happened in other continents of the world.

He added that there is a need to catch children now that they are young and open their minds to the hazards associated with the use of lethal weapons because they do not understand the negative effects they have on humanity and are already interested in robots through the cartoons they watch.

Speaking on the topic, ‘Introduction to Lethal Autonomous Weapon System (LAWS) and the Human Rights Implications of Killer Robots’, the director of Institute of Church and Society, Very Rev Kolade Fadahunsi, stated that while most uses of artificial intelligence are peaceful, it could also be used for harm if it is applied to developing Lethal Autonomous Weapon System, adding that a key feature of artificial intelligence is its ability to do complex tasks in new ways that are less expensive, faster and on a large scale.

According to him, while artificial intelligence is helpful for accelerating development goals such as improving healthcare, eliminating poverty and educating children, it could, in contrast, be used to develop lethal autonomous weapons that could result in great harm to humanity by introducing fundamentally new and dire risks that are different from other conventional weapons.

He explained that there are security risks associated with this which include more wars and less diplomacy as lethal autonomous weapons will reduce the barrier for entry into the war as countries won’t have to send many troops, adding that it also gives rise to the harm an individual can do to millions of people without provocation through the use of weapons of mass destruction.

Very Rev Fadahunsi added that another risk is the fact that it is virtually impossible to develop ways to reliably defend against lethal autonomous weapons, and that compared to weapons controlled by humans, lethal autonomous weapons could be hacked and turned against the authority using it on innocent civilians as well as aid terrorism.

He further explained that there are human rights risks associated with the use, adding that it is inhumane, unethical and a violation of human rights for a machine to kill a person without a human taking the final decision. According to him, there is an absence of morality and there is bias as it can selectively target groups; gender, ethnic, age, religion etc without reason.

At the end of the discussion, participants agreed that there is a need for more sensitisation, especially in religious centres, schools and the grassroots. They urged more civil society organisations to leave the common, grant-friendly causes and consider those that have to do with the welfare of humanity among other suggestions.

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