Japan to back int'l efforts to regulate AI-equipped 'killer robots'

Kyodo News

Posted at Mar 17 2019 12:42 AM

Japan is planning to give its backing to international efforts to regulate the development of lethal weapons controlled by artificial intelligence at a UN conference in Geneva late this month, government sources said Saturday.

It would mark a departure from Japan's current policy. The government was already opposed to the development of so-called killer robots that could kill without human involvement. But it had called for careful discussions when it comes to rules so as to make sure that commercial development of AI would not be hampered.

With the policy shift, Japan is hoping to play a leading role in crafting international rules on what have been called lethal autonomous weapons systems, or LAWS, the sources said.

At the conference of the U.N.'s Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, Japan will submit documents summarizing its views on LAWS and call for the establishment of a panel of technical experts in the field of AI, according to the sources.

In the documents, Japan will say it cannot overlook the development of such autonomous weapons and does not rule out the possibility of working toward a global ban on them, they said.

Some African, European and Latin American countries have already been active in seeking a prohibition of AI-equipped weapons. But global discussions have not yielded a consensus as the United States, Russia and other countries said to be developing them are reluctant.

Japan now believes the stalled global debate along with the uncontrolled development are problematic and it wants to "change the "flow of the argument," one of the sources said.