The Vatican’s Ambassador to the UN spoke Wednesday at the Convention on Conventional Weapons.

Msgr. John Putzer expressed the Holy See’s disappointment over minimal progress being made in starting negotiations for a legally binding agreement on LAWS, lethal autonomous weapon systems, also known as “killer robots.”

Read Putzer’s protest below:

“In the view of the Holy See it is imperative to ensure adequate, meaningful, and consistent human supervision over weapon systems as only humans are able to see the results of their actions and understand the connections between cause and effect. This would not be the case with LAWS which could never ‘understand’ the meaning of their actions. Meaningful human supervision also implies that, ultimately, there is always the reference to the human person that must guide the research, development, and use of weapons systems, even in the absence of specific legal regulations, as implied by the ‘Martens Clause’, which is aimed at offering some protection to individuals caught up in armed conflict even when there is no specific applicable rule of international humanitarian law. Consistent human supervision entails that at no time the weapons systems would have the capacity to contradict what the human authority has prescribed as the main purpose or result of its intervention.” 

The Holy See recommended stopping development and use of all “killer robots” until negotiations are reconvened on a legal and moral framework, and proposed an international organization on artificial intelligence in general.

“In the midst of the global pandemic, it is important to place emerging technologies at the service of humanity for peaceful uses and integral human development … to facilitate, and ensure the right of all States to participate in, the fullest possible exchange of scientific and technological information for peaceful uses and towards the common good of all the human family.”

Did you know there is a patron saint for robots, who talked about them on their deathbed over 1500 years ago?

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