UK Campaign

Introduction

The UK campaign to Stop Killer Robots is a member of the global Campaign to Stop Killer Robots. We are a coalition of NGO’s, academics and tech workers working to ban fully autonomous weapons and thereby retain meaningful human control over the use of force. We aim to influence the UK Government and move their position from opposing a ban on killer robots to supporting one. To get in touch please contact robotsuk@una.org.uk

FAQ


Resources & Blog links

Written evidence from the UK Campaign to Stop Killer Robots to the UK Foreign Affairs Committee

In June 2021, the UK Campaign to Stop Killer Robots submitted written evidence to the UK Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee. The campaign emphasised that it is essential that the UK engages in public debate over policy on new military technologies, including AI and autonomous systems, and in particular articulates a robust set of ethical principles to govern their use and development.

The Integrated Review and the risk of AI weapons: A Briefing by the UK Campaign to Stop Killer Robots

On March 16 2021, the UK government released the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy, which announces a boom in spending on military Artificial Intelligence, including autonomous technologies. The UK Campaign to Stop Killer Robots prospered a briefing highlighting the campaign’s major concerns in relation to the content of the Integrated Review and the UK’s overall policy on lethal autonomous weapons.

Parliamentary Briefing: Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS)

In March 2021, the UK Campaign to Stop Killer Robots launched a parliamentary briefing, which outlines key concerns, as well as recent developments internationally and within the UK in relation to LAWS.  The briefing will be disseminated widely across Members of Parliament so as to advance the UK campaign’s political workstream goal of developing relationships with major UK political parties, building a network of engaged parliamentary champions and coordinating lobbying actions within different sectors to increase pressure on the UK Government to support a ban on LAWS.

Discussing lethal autonomous weapons

In this November 2020 video, Drone Wars researcher Peter Burt discusses the issue of lethal autonomous weapons systems

The iWars Survey: Mapping the IT sector’s involvement in developing autonomous weapons

In April 2021, the campaign’s member Drone Wars released a new survey, which maps the involvement of information technology corporations in military artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics programmes, an area of rapidly increasing focus for the UK military. The spreadsheet gives summary information for 70 companies in the UK tech sector and the extent of their involvement in the development of military technology. A further 100 companies based in the US, other NATO or allied countries from which the UK may wish to purchase services or equipment are also covered in the spreadsheet.

Meaning-less human control: Lessons from air defence systems for Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems

In March 2021, the University of South Demmar and the UK Campaign Campaign to Stop Killer Robots’ member, Drone Wars, launched the report “Meaning-less human control: Lessons from air defence systems for Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems“. The report draws on a new data catalogue constructed by the report’s authors, Ingvild Bode and Tom Watts, to examine automation and autonomy in 28 air defence systems used across the world, and analyses high-profile failures of such systems including the downing of Iran Air Flight 655 (1988), Malaysian Airlines MH 17 (2014), Ukrainian Airlines PS752 (2020), and two instances of fratricide involving the Patriot Air Defense System in the Second Gulf War (2003).  Its central argument is that the integration of autonomy and automation into the critical functions of air defense systems has, under some conditions, made human control over specific use of force decisions increasingly meaningless.

Regulating autonomy in weapons systems

Using graphics and visuals, this October 2020 leaflet produced by Article 36 explains a basic model of how a treaty to address autonomous weapons could be structured – and illustrates how that structure responds to the problems that increased autonomy in weapons systems raise.

Peter Burt (Drone Wars) discusses killer robots and autonomous weapons

In this June 2020 interview, Drone Wars researcher Peter Burt talks about how the increasing autonomy of weapons systems raises the prospect of robots being developed and deployed which can identify, select and make the decision to kill without any human oversight.

From “pink eyed terminators” to a clear-eyed response? UK policy on autonomous weapons

In this March 2020 paper, Article 36 analyses UK contributions to the discussion on ‘autonomy’ in weapons systems at the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. The UK’s political position that existing law is sufficient and no new regulation in this area is necessary obscures a policy orientation dispersed through its statements that has a strong emphasis and useful detail on human control over systems that apply force on the basis of sensors and machine calculations. Brought together, this could provide the building blocks of an approach around which many actors in the international debate could coalesce.

COVID-19: The Risks of Relying on Technology to “Save Us” from the Coronavirus

In this April 2020 blog post, Ray Acheson of Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) analysis the risks of relying on technology to manage the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Off the Leash: How the UK is developing the technology to build autonomous drones

In this November 2018 report, Drone Wars UK reveals that, despite a UK government statement that it “does not possess fully autonomous weapons and has no intention of developing them”, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is actively funding research into technology supporting the development of armed autonomous drones.

Killer Robots: Who is making the decision?

In this September 2018 report, UNA-UK calls on the UK Government to play a constructive role in international meetings on killer robots and support the growing calls to start negotiating a new framework to prohibit the development of killer robots. Such an approach would be the most effective way to ensure that weapons systems across the globe to remain under meaningful human control.

UK must adopt cooperative approach to stop development of killer robots (June 2018)

In response to a letter from UNA-UK and others calling for UK leadership to regulate Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS), also known as ‘killer robots,’ the UK has reasserted the requirement for human oversight in weapons systems but has stopped short of committing to work for a new prohibition on LAWS.

UNA-UK joins tech-leaders and academics in pledge to ban ‘Killer Robots’

In August 2018, UNA-UK, a member of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, joined the founders of Google’s DeepMind, SpaceX, Tesla and a host of civil society organisations in a pledge to seek a ban for lethal autonomous weapons (LAWS). So far, the pledge, coordinated by the Future of Life Institute, has gained the support of over 230 organisations and over 3000 academics, executives and politicians.

Tech companies join call for UK to act now to prohibit killer robots

In April 2018, governmental experts from around 80 countries are gathered at the UN in Geneva to discuss ways to address the threats posed by Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS), also known as ‘killer robots’.

Events


All-Party Parliamentary Groups’ (APPG) event: Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems: Legal, ethical, and military perspectives on UK and international policy

On 16 March 2021, the UK Campaign Campaign to Stop Killer Robots and the APPG on Drones hosted an expert meeting chaired by Alyn Smith MP (Scottish National Party, SNP) on “Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems: Legal, ethical, and military perspectives on UK and international policy”. The events’ speakers were the following: Maya Brehm, Legal Advisor, the International Committee of the Red Cross; Paddy Walker, Associate Fellow, the Royal United Services Institute; Bonnie Docherty, Senior Researcher, Arms Division, Human Rights Watch; Richard Moyes, Managing Director, Article 36.

Global Youth Conference on Fully Autonomous Weapons

In December 2020, the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots and the International Student Conference, a student organization based in Tokyo, convened a virtual Global Youth Conference on Fully Autonomous Weapons. The event brought together Youth Speakers from 20 countries and representatives of Human Rights Watch Japan, as well as Japan’s Parliament and Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The UK was represented by Leyla Manthorpe (Amnesty International UK).

Killer Robots: The Ethics of Scientific Innovation

In October 2020, The University of Cambridge Lawyers Without Borders Student Division and Cambridge University Amnesty International (CUAI) organised the event “Killer Robots: The Ethics of Scientific Innovation”. At the occasion, Verity Coyle (UK Campaign to Stop Killer Robots), Elizabeth Minor (Article 36/UK Campaign to Stop Killer Robots) and Laura Nolan (International Committee for Robot Arms Control) discussed: Are killer robots a problem for the far future? How can we develop technology responsibly? Will advocating this cause hinder scientific progress? What are the policy challenges both in the UK and internationally? If you missed the event, you can watch it here.

European Parliament AIDA-SEDE Joint meeting: The external policy dimension of AI

On 4 March  2021, the UK Campaign Campaign to Stop Killer Robots’ member, Article 36, gave a (virtual) presentation to a European Parliament hearing on “The external policy dimension of AI” (Artificial Intelligence) convened by its committees on Artificial Intelligence in the Digital Age (AIDA) and Defence (SEDE).  Elizabeth Minor (advisor, Article 36) spoke on the importance of regulating LAWS and the role of the European Union in ensuring human control over the use of force. Click here to access the event’s recording and Article 36’s presentation is reproduced here.

Code for coders: Killer Robots, Ethics and the Law

In November 2020, Student Young Pugwash UK held a Festival of Ethical Science. The UK Killer Robots Campaign’s tech coordinator Taniel Yusef (WILPF UK) participated in the event, where she explained the role of tech workers and STEM students in efforts to challenge the rise of lethal autonomous weapons. If you missed the event, you can watch it here.

UK Campaign to Stop Killer Robots launches universities campaign

Recent controversy over an ‘exams algorithm’ in the UK has shown how the unthinking use of artificial intelligence can have serious and harmful effects on people’s lives. This context framed the launch event of the UK coalition of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots’ Universities campaign, which was held on the 2nd of September 2020. In the coming months, the students who attended the event will begin a conversation on their campuses (whether virtual or in-person) about the role their universities will play in the conversation on lethal autonomous weapons. To know more about the UK university campaign, please read.

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