RTL Today – Killer algorithms: Luxembourg calls for strict controls on “killer drones”

These autonomous drones, programmed to kill, use artificial intelligence to identify their targets and neutralize them, without human intervention.

It may sound like a sci-fi movie script, but Defense Minister Francois Bausch is adamant: “It’s reality, and it’s chilling.”

The Luxembourg Ministry of Defense has been studying the subject of autonomous and lethal weapon systems for two years. An interministerial working group was launched on Friday, chaired by the Ministry of Defense. This group should provide a dossier by the summer of 2023 in which Luxembourg will take a clear position on these lethal automatic weapons.

The Minister has already set the tone, stressing that Luxembourg “will be one of those countries which will demand very strict rules at the international level, while giving itself the means at the national level to protect its population”.

As part of a campaign to stop “killer robots”, scientists and states are trying to mobilize leaders through conferences and striking videos against the use of these pre-programmed drones to kill specific people. The drones use an algorithm that uses facial recognition software to easily find specific groups of people or even individuals and kill them, remotely, without human intervention.

Bausch explains that unlike other dangerous weapons such as chemical or nuclear weapons, which are more difficult to obtain or manufacture, the materials needed for drones are “available and relatively easy to manufacture”. And the consequences can be “extremely devastating”, according to the minister.

These drones have already been used, for example in Libya against Marshal Haftar’s troops, according to a United Nations report. For Bausch, it is now essential to define clear restrictions ensuring that a human must control one of these devices at all times.

Members of the Future of Life Institute believe that “these weapons using algorithms to kill are immoral and pose a serious threat to global security” and that the international community needs rules.

The Luxembourg government now wants to assume its responsibilities. According to Bausch, Luxembourg is not alone, because other countries, such as Austria or the Netherlands, are of the same opinion as the Grand Duchy. The next step now is “to form a coalition of nations who want an international convention capable of creating the necessary rules and laws”, the minister said.

The full report from RTL Télé (in Luxembourgish):

Sharon D. Cole