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Autonomous weapons could dehumanize war, Vatican warns UN

May 13, 2014

High-tech weapons are contributing to an “increasing trend of dehumanization of warfare,” the Vatican’s representative told a UN session in Geneva on autonomous weapons systems.

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi objected to “relying on machines to make decisions about death and life.” He indicated that he was referring to weapons systems that identify, select, and engage human targets by the use of artificial-intelligence systems. He said: “Humans must not be taken out of the loop over decisions regarding life and death for other human beings.”

“Decisions over life and death inherently call for human qualities, such as compassion and insight,” the archbishop argued. He cited studies that have shown that soldiers are “innately averse to taking life, and this aversion can show itself in moments of compassion and humanity amidst the horrors of war.

“Autonomous weapon systems technology makes war too easy and removes its reliance on soldierly virtues,” the Vatican representative said.


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