The U.S. military has been developing robots for years now. For the most part, these 7,000 or so ground-based machines are designed to help soldiers on the battlefield, either with heaving lifting or more dangerous work, such as deactivating or clearing away bombs. But the United States, Britain, Israel and South Korea have robot sentries, which come equipped with machine guns and cameras, thermal imaging and laser range finders capable of detecting intruders up to 2 1⁄2 miles away. These robots are seen as precursors to fully autonomous systems that make decisions on their own and shoot humans without a living being pulling the trigger.
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In light of these technological advances, United Nations expert, Christof Heyns, has called for a "global moratorium on the development and use of armed robots that can select and kill targets without human command," reports the NY Times.
A Human Rights Watch report compiled in collaboration with the Harvard Law School cites a United States Air Force assessment that "by 2030 machine capabilities will have increased to the point that humans have become the weakest component in a wide array of systems and processes."