The Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa at the Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria cordially invites you to a lecture and discussion on ‘Lethal autonomous robotics: Coming to a theatre near you?’ by Christof Heyns, United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and Professor of Human Rights Law, UP.

Date: Friday 10 May 2013
Time: 10:30–12:00
Venue: Room 1-45, Law Building
RSVP: Pumeza, 012 420 6217, pumeza.matwa@up.ac.za by 2 May

A light finger lunch will be served afterwards.
Additional guests are welcome but please indicate number of attendees.
Please bring this invitation to gain access into the Hatfield Campus.

Drones have been used by states since the early 1990s to eliminate enemies and opponents around the world and this continues to generate global controversy. The distinguishing feature of drones is that they are remotely controlled aerial vehicles and therefore ‘unmanned’, but human beings remain ‘in the loop’ and are the ones to take the decision to apply lethal force. On the horizon lurks the introduction of lethal autonomous robotics (LARs), which will entail humans being taken out of the equation. Once launched, these new weapons will identify, select and engage targets without further human intervention.

This raises profound questions in the field of international law, including international humanitarian and human rights law, as well as more existential issues, such as the question whether machines should be entrusted with life and death decisions over human beings.
On 29 May 2013, Prof Christof Heyns will report to the United Nations Human Rights Council on the study he has conducted in this regard. His report will be based on inter alia a series of discussions held in different parts of the world with military commanders, roboticists, philosophers and international legal experts. On 10 May he will discuss some of the issues resulting from this new development.


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