Killer robots made possible by the EU

1 July 2018

Killer robots made possible by the EU

Attention has been so focussed on the debate around immigration that other important issues have been hardly noticed. The heads of EU member state governments, for instance, last week voted to establish a European Defence Fund. I am not in the least surprised that these leaders took no notice of the criticisms of the militarisation of the European research programme from ourselves and others, but that they should ignore the call from more than 800 scientists to at least spend no money on the development of killer robots was less predictable.  The combination of artificial intelligence and weapons is - literally and figuratively – deadly. The EU, however, finds this of sufficient interest to develop it further. Nothing, absolutely nothing, remains of the original ideal of peace. 

The European Commission and the leaders of the member state governments want to make Europe safer, and they want to achieve this by taking part in a renewed international arms race. For this reason €90 million will be spent over the next three years on defence research. And that's only the start, because in the end the European Defence Fund will amount to €13 billion. Since the end of the Cold War there has never been so much spent across the world on weaponry, and all in the name of making the world a safer place. 

Bombs have never made the world safer and a world feels the need for such deterrence is playing with fire. It shows remarkable cynicism that a summit to discuss the refuge issue should nod through spending on militarisation, when we all know that it is precisely the violence of war which the refugees are seeking to escape. That's bad enough when we're talking about conventional arms, but it's worse when it's 'autonomous weapons' which are being financed. Via algorithms, the enemy is traced and the drone or other robot goes after its target. Is that really what we want? To make life and death dependent on autonomous electronics and software?

On July 7th the SP youth organisation ROOD will be taking part in a mass demonstration in Brussels against militarisation in general and especially against Trump's arrival for the NATO summit. Next week we will be voting on the European Defence Fund in the European Parliament. For my fellow SP Euro-MP Anne-Marie Mineur and myself the matter is clear. We are completely against, and we don't need a robot to tell us which way to vote.

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