A Rogue Killer Drone ‘Hunted Down’ a Human Target Without Being Instructed To, UN Report Says

by Joshua Zitser, published on Business Insider, May 30, 2021

Editor’s Note: In full disclosure, I think this is an interesting story, but I’m not sure I buy it as stated.   For one thing, it isn’t clear why the drone was armed and flying without a target.   Also, it isn’t clear whether the target was on the same side as the drone or was an opponent in the war.   Even so, this is a problem with piloted drones as well.  The intention of the pilot or whomever released the drone is often implemented in a way that is not reliable.  I also think this kind of story distracts from the main story, which is that no drone, not even a remotely piloted one, can be safely armed. [jb]

A “lethal” weaponized drone “hunted down a human target” without being told to, likely for the first time, according to a UN report seen by the New Scientist.

In the March 2020 incident, a Kargu-2 quadcopter autonomously attacked a person during a conflict between Libyan government forces and a breakaway military faction, led by the Libyan National Army’s Khalifa Haftar, the Daily Star reported.

The Turkish-built Kargu-2, a deadly attack drone designed for asymmetric warfare and anti-terrorist operations, targeted one of Haftar’s soldiers while he tried to retreat, according to the paper.

The drone, which can be directed to detonate on impact, was operating in a “‘highly effective’ autonomous mode that required no human controller,” the New York Post reported.

“The lethal autonomous weapons systems were programmed to attack targets without requiring data connectivity between the operator and the munition: in effect, a true ‘fire, forget and find’ capability,”

the report from the UN Security Council’s panel of experts on Libya said.

This is likely the first time drones have attacked humans without instructions to do so, Zak Kallenborn, a national-security consultant who specializes in unmanned systems and drones, confirmed in the report.

Kallenborn has concerns about the future of autonomous drones. “How brittle is the object recognition system?” he said in the report. “How often does it misidentify targets?

Jack Watling, a researcher on land warfare at the Royal United Services Institute, told the New Scientist that the incident demonstrates the “urgent and important” need to discuss the potential regulation of autonomous weapons.

Human Rights Watch has called for an end to so-called “killer robots” and is campaigning for a “preemptive ban on the development, production, and use of fully autonomous weapons,” according to a report by the nonprofit.

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