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Voice of the Commonwealth - The Global Influencer

Voice of the Commonwealth - The Global Influencer

Killer robots on the NZ government radar

considering the need to strengthen global efforts in regulation in this regard. During the event, the Minister underscored the danger of warfare “delegated to machines”, and referred to a recent study which showed widespread public opposition against them, with a significant proportion of the island’s population supporting government action to ban or limit their development and use.

This prospect of the Pacific nation’s leadership in the so called ‘killer robots’ was welcome by activists, with the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots listing Twyford’s commitment as one of the campaign’s “key actions and achievements” to date. However, at the time, New Zealand has not yet joined a group of 30 other countries who have formally called for a ban on AWS. Therefore, in a critical step in addressing concerns around these weapons systems, Minister Twyford announced today (30 Nov), that the government will push for new international laws to ban or regulate their use.

“While the evidence suggests fully autonomous weapons systems are not yet being deployed on the battlefield, the prospect of a future where the decision to take a human life is delegated to machines is abhorrent and inconsistent with New Zealand’s interests and values,” he noted. “This is an issue with significant implications for global peace and security, and I’m optimistic New Zealand, alongside the international community, is well placed to push for action.”

According to the Minister, the use of emerging technology and artificial intelligence in new weapons systems are expected to raise legal, security and ethical risks if they are not regulated. He believes that the Pacific island is well placed to make the case for a new treaty on the matter, particularly in the ongoing discussions at the United Nations in Geneva. “This policy also makes clear, however, that New Zealand will remain open to other opportunities to make progress, including by building and working with a coalition of states, experts and others,” Twyford added.

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