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There are currently no multilateral regulations covering military artificial intelligence
by BBC News, Campaign To Stop Killer Robots
UN Secretary-General''s High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Izumi Nakamitsu: “There are currently no multilateral standards or regulations covering military Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications.
Concern from the United Nations
The United Nations says it is “closely following developments related to the prospect of weapons systems that can autonomously select and engage targets, with concern that technological developments may outpace normative deliberations.” It expresses hope that UN member states “make meaningful progress toward a shared understanding on how to ensure the core values of the international community are safeguarded in this context.”
That’s according to a 22 May 2017 letter sent to the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots by the new Under Secretary-General High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Izumi Nakamitsu, on behalf of the new UN Secretary-General, António Guterres. Guterres began his term on 1 January 2017, while Nakamitsu became the new UN disarmament chief on 1 May after working for the UN in humanitarian assistance and peacekeeping.
Nakamitsu first elaborated the UN’s “fundamental concerns” over killer robots in an address to the high-level “Artificial Intelligence for Good” summit convened by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in Geneva on 7 June. The six-page statement finds that fully autonomous weapon systems raise serious questions, including over their potential impact on international peace and security, the implications for global norms and mechanisms governing warfare, likely proliferation, and possibility they will be “sought after by unscrupulous actors with malicious intent.”
Under the heading of “What can we do?” the UN disarmament chief finds “there are currently no multilateral standards or regulations covering military AI applications.” She expresses the UN’s support for the process to discuss lethal autonomous weapons at the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) in Geneva.
Nakamitsu says that states should decide “what they consider to be the acceptable degree of human control over the lethal functions of a weapon system, and whether a specific international treaty or instrument is required to ensure that control is maintained.”
However, the CCW process on killer robots is faltering and will not convene until November 2017 at the earliest, more than a year after the last substantive talks on the topic. A crucial week of formal discussions on killer robots that was due to take place in Geneva in April 2017 and then rescheduled to August has been cancelled because several states, most notably Brazil, failed to pay their dues for the convention’s meetings.
The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots strongly regrets this development and is working with Brazil and others to help resolve it so that the CCW process can continue. At this time, the campaign is intensifying its outreach in national capitals to check on the status of policy development and encourage legislative initiatives to ban fully autonomous weapons.
The campaign aims to engage at the regional level to build awareness and support for a collective response and it continues to explore other avenues that could lead states to adopt a new international instrument to retain meaningful human control over the critical functions of weapons systems.
Both the UN’s letter and statement call for “inclusive and comprehensive dialogue” on the concerns posed by lethal autonomous weapons systems. Nakamitsu recommends a “multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder exchange” between governments and “civil society activists, the scientific community and the private sector.”
She views “human dignity and human security” as “essential” elements or principles to guide discussion, including the development of “human-centred norms.”
On 29 June 2017, Nakamitsu met with Campaign to Stop Killer Robots representatives Nobel Peace Laureate Jody Williams and Mary Wareham of Human Rights Watch in New York, where they discussed the revolutionary nature of fully autonomous weapons and paradigm shift they constitute for the conduct of warfare in future.
The UN letter was in response to March correspondence from the campaign. Since its launch in 2013 the campaign has engaged in regular dialogue with the UN disarmament chief, including previous representatives Angela Kane (until 2015) and then Kim Won-soo (until 2017)
In his remarks to the AI for Good summit, the Secretary-General of campaign co-founder Amnesty International, Salil Shetty, reiterated the urgent need for a pre-emptive ban on fully autonomous weapons.
11 August 2017
US firm reveals gun-toting drone that can fire in mid-air available for private sales. (BBC)
A US technology firm has developed a drone that is able to aim and fire at enemies while flying in mid-air. The Tikad drone, developed by Duke Robotics, is armed with a machine-gun and a grenade launcher.
The gun can be fired only by remote control, and is supposedly designed to reduce military casualties by cutting the number of ground troops required.
But campaigners warn that in the wrong hands, it will make it easier to kill innocent people.
The Tikad drone, available for private sale at an undisclosed price, has won a security innovation award from the US Department of Defense, and there is interest from several military forces around the world, including Israel, reports Defense One.
However, robotics expert Professor Noel Sharkey expressed concern that gun-toting drones could make it easier to kill innocent people.
"Big military drones traditionally have to fly thousands of feet overhead to get to targets, but these smaller drones could easily fly down the street to apply violent force," he told the BBC.
"This is my biggest worry since there have been many legal cases of human-rights violations using the large fixed-wing drones, and these could potentially result in many more."
For the past decade, Prof Sharkey has been campaigning against killer robots, which are fully autonomous, computer-powered weapons that would be able to track and select targets without human supervision.
Together with the Campaign To Stop Killer Robots, a coalition of over 60 international NGOs including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the Nobel Women''s Initiative, Sharkey has been lobbying the United Nations to ban autonomous weapons.
However, the machine-gun on board the Duke Robotics device still has to be controlled remotely by a human operator.
According to Prof Sharkey, some US military officials are concerned that although the US might follow the laws of war, terrorists could easily look at drone innovations and copy the idea to kill innocent people.
"We already know that Islamic State is using drones laden with explosives to kill people. What''s to stop them from getting their hands on this? Copying has not been possible with big military drones, but once you get the idea that you can strap automatic weapons onto one and operate it remotely, that''s very much easier," he said.
"This type of weapon is another dangerous step towards the development of fully autonomous weapons that could hunt down targets and kill them without human supervision."

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Outrage in India as 63 children die after oxygen turned off at hospital due to unpaid bill
by Scroll India, NDTV, Hindustan Times
12 Aug. 2017
Gorakhpur hospital tragedy: Three more children die, toll rises to 63 in five days.
At least 63 children have died, many of them newborns, in the state-run Baba Raghav Das Medical College in Uttar Pradesh in the last five days. According to reports, the probable causes of deaths are shortage of oxygen supply in the paediatrics ward. The oxygen had been turned off due to lack of payment of outstanding bills.
Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi expressed his outrage at the deaths saying, "Kids died in hospital without oxygen. This is not a tragedy. It''s a massacre. Is this what 70 years of freedom means for our children?"
11 Aug. 2017
Uttar Pradesh: 30 children died in 48 hours in Gorakhpur hospital after oxygen supply failed.
The supply was allegedly stopped after Baba Raghav Das Medical College and Hospital failed to clear the bills of Rs 67 lakh.
Earlier, reports had attributed the deaths to encephalitis, a condition which causes high fever and brain inflammation. However, a statement released by the hospital later showed only five of the 30 deaths were of children suffering from the acute encephalitis syndrome. Seventeen deaths were reported from the neo-natal ICU.
Twenty three children died on Thursday night, while seven lost their lives on Friday after oxygen supply to the hospital was disrupted at 7.30 pm on Thursday. “On August 10, at 7.30 pm, the pressure in the liquid oxygen started falling,” the hospital said in a statement.
The oxygen supply was allegedly stopped after the hospital failed to clear the suppliers’ bill of Rs 67 lakh, the Hindustan Times had reported. “The supply of liquid oxygen was disrupted yesterday day due to pending payments. We had requested the suppliers not to disrupt supply,” District Magistrate Rajeev Rautela had said.
Opposition blames state government
The Opposition parties on Saturday demanded resignations of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath and state Health Minister Siddharth Nath Singh following the death of 63 children at Baba Raghav Das Medical College and Hospital in Gorakhpur. The children are believed to have died after an alleged oxygen supply failure in the ward.
“Considering he [Adityanath] is both the MP and the chief minister, he must take moral responsibility and step down, and so should the health minister [Siddharth Nath Singh],” Congress leader Manish Tewari told ANI.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi said she was “pained beyond words” by the tragedy. She said the children were victims of “gross negligence and incorrigible misconduct on part of the authorities”. Party Vice President Rahul Gandhi also blamed the state government for the tragedy. “Deeply pained. My thoughts are with the families of the victims. BJP govt is responsible and should punish the negligent, who caused this tragedy,” he said. Both Congress and Samajwadi Party demanded the resignation of the state health minister, reported PTI.
On August 10, the website Gorakhpur Newsline reported a possible crisis due to an oxygen supply shortage at Baba Raghav Das Medical College and Hospital at Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh. The report said that Pushpa Sales, the company that supplied liquid oxygen to the medical college, had cut off supply because the medical college had not paid its arrears, warning that this could put patients’ lives at risk. This is precisely what seems to have happened.
A statement released by the hospital on the evening of August 11 said that 30 children died after the liquid oxygen supply was disrupted.


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