Washington, February 27 : A renowned robotics expert at the University of Sheffield is set to address the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) on how the development of new robot weapons poses a threat to humanity, during a one-day conference in Whitehall on February 27.
Noel Sharkey, a professor in the Department of Computer Science, will be expressing his concerns that humans are beginning to see the first steps towards an international robot arms race.
He is also expected to caution powerful countries across the world that it may not be long before robots become a standard terrorist weapon to replace the suicide bomber.
"The trouble is that we can't really put the genie back in the bottle. Once the new weapons are out there, they will be fairly easy to copy. How long is it going to be before the terrorists get in on the act," says Professor Sharkey, who is famously known for his roles as chief judge on the TV series Robot Wars as well as onscreen expert for the BBC´s TechnoGames.
"With the current prices of robot construction falling dramatically and the availability of ready-made components for the amateur market, it wouldn't require a lot of skill to make autonomous robot weapons," he adds.
Although Professor Sharkey has not given any explanation as to how such robots can be made, he says that a small GPS guided drone with autopilot may be made for around 250 pounds.
He is also concerned with a number of ethical issues that arise from the use of autonomous weapons.
"Current robots are dumb machines with very limited sensing capability. What this means is that it is not possible to guarantee discrimination between combatants and innocents or a proportional use of force as required by the current Laws of War," he says.
"It seems clear that there is an urgent need for the international community to assess the risks of these new weapons now rather than after they have crept their way into common use," he adds.