Should Robots Decide When to Kill? Autonomous Weapons and the New Global Arms Race

The United States continues to lead the world in the development and use of new military technologies, while rejecting calls for arms control. While nuclear weapons continue to pose an existential threat to humanity, new arms races have developed in space, at sea, and in the air, fueled by emerging technologies and US insistence on maintaining military supremacy in spite of changing global realities. US use of drones since 2001 has killed thousands and set an example for dozens of other countries which now have or are acquiring armed drones. The further development of robotic weapon systems has been touted as representing “the future of war,” and in 2012 the United States became the first nation to openly declare a policy for the development, acquisition and use of autonomous weapon systems that “once activated, can select and engage targets without further intervention.” From remote-control killing, the front line of the arms race is rapidly shifting to weapons that can kill outside of human control. Americans remain unaware that their government has declared its intention to develop and use such “killer robots,” while a global movement has arisen to ban them. Raising awareness is essential to bring about a shift in US policy, which could enable rapid progress to be made in diplomatic fora. We need to begin to get the word out about this and other aspects of the emerging technology arms race where our government has foolishly chosen to pursue illusory and short-term military advantages instead of leading toward a future of peace.


Mark Gubrud is a physicist and a member of the International Committee for Robot Arms Control. He has taught physics at the University of North Carolina and did postdoctoral research in the Program on Science and Global Security at Princeton University. He first proposed a ban on autonomous weapons in 1988.“Technology should serve human ends, not become the end of humanity. Military forces should protect, not threaten us. Economic arrangements should enrich, not impoverish us. These are not just utopian ideals. They are transformations of our institutions and ideas that are necessary for survival.” – Mark Gubrud

Monday, October 27

6:30pm – Reception with light refreshments
7:00pm – Presentation by Mark Gubrud, followed by Q&A

Atlanta Friends Meeting House
701 West Howard Avenue Decatur 30030

Free admission and parking 3 blocks east of East Lake MARTA station

Georgia Peace & Justice Coalition
Facebook page for the event:


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