Killer Robot - Public Domain

The only way to stop killer robots, said McGovern and a series of panelists he assembled for a Capitol Hill briefing this week, is to ban them before they even exist. Much like drones, once someone gets a killer robot, it’s only a matter of time before everyone else is racing to catch up. And despite some countries’ commitment to evaluating the technology responsibly, good intentions never won an arms race.

“The only thing harder than getting a ban in place is getting a ban in place after something is developed,” McGovern said.

McGovern is racing technology, but he believes he has time: He thinks it will take another two to three decades before the technology would be available.

McGovern’s Tuesday panel is part of an ongoing effort by anti-robot activists to raise awareness about the issue. They hope lawmakers will share their concerns and join their push for a worldwide ban. “The U.S. should show leadership on this,” said the Human Rights Watch’s Steve Goose. “If the U.S. were able to get out in front … it would lead the way for many other nations.”

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