Say what you like about Brussels bureaucrats, they are fearless when it comes to preventing the extinction of the human race by killer robots.
The European Union took a formal stance against the annihilation of our race by death-dealing machines on Wednesday when it passed a resolution that called for an international ban on weapons that can be fired without human intervention.
So-called autonomous weapons are a wet dream for defense contractors. Such systems would be much cheaper to run because they wouldn't have to rely on humans who have to be paid, get sleep and, you know, occasionally feel bad about taking someone else's life.
The scary thing is that modern technology such as drones and autonomous vehicles are actually making what has been a sci-fi staple – the killer robot – eerily close to becoming a reality.
The US military has repeatedly demonstrated that it is capable of delivering precision firepower (missiles packed with explosives) from many hundreds of miles away. There are still pretty strong rules of engagement on using such drones – including the use of a two-man team and a series of checks and commands – but why bog yourself down with human intervention when new weapons could let a computer decide who to kill and who to leave alone?
Speaking during a debate this week in the European Parliament, the head of the EU's EU foreign and security policy Federica Mogherini actively dismissed the idea that this was something that is far into the future: "I know that this might look like a debate about some distant future or about science fiction. It’s not," she said.
And just in case you thought that Europe has lost its mind, the issue is actually due for discussion at the United Nations later this year. That's right, a global organization renowned for its glacial discussions is planning to push a formal resolution banning the development and production of autonomous weapons.
Fight em with factsheets!
We're not sure which is more alarming: That there needs to be such a campaign at all, or the fact that they can only come with 10 reasons to ban them. We're going to put ourselves out on a limb here and say that killer robots are not something that no one ever wants to see outside of their local Cineplex.
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Well, you'd be wrong. Because some argued against the resolution in the European Parliament this week, warning that such a blanket ban on developing deadly weapons controlled by machine could impose unnecessary limits on artificial intelligence research.
And others pointed out that banning killer robots could be a bad idea if someone else developed them. Everyone needs a robot army just in case someone else has got one. An argument that not only demonstrates the human race's enduring idiocy but would form the slightly boring first 20 minutes of a movie in which people end up battling for their lives against maniacal machines.
Anyway, the resolution passed so we can sleep safe in our beds now that a bunch of bureaucrats have passed a resolution. Because that approach always works without exception.
You could be forgiven however for imagining a brooding billionaire tech genius with a terrible family tragedy back story walking out of the building muttering to himself: "I'll be back." ®