London: Human Rights groups have launched a campaign to put an end to the development of what are called "killer robots," which they believe should be outlawed along with cluster bombs and land mines.
The campaign organisers are concerned that the increased use of unmanned drone attacks by the US and automatic defence systems such as the Iron Dome used by the Israelis so successfully to shoot down rockets from Gaza late last year are merely the precursors to thinking robots that could kill with impunity if programmed to do so - much like the Arnold Schwarzenegger character in the Terminator movies, Sky News reported.
One of the campaigners, Jody Williams, said, "We`re worried about machines that can be programmed, you put in a certain set of criteria, but then you set that machine free and it goes off whether it is in the air or on land or in the sea."
Defence contractors particularly in the UK and US are working increasingly on robotic aids to warfare; the so-called "bloodless war" is akin to the Holy Grail for western military leaders.
But in Britain, at least, defence chiefs draw the line at killer robots with no human control.
"The MoD has no intention of developing any weapons systems that are used without human involvement," a Ministry of Defence spokesperson said.
There are no plans to replace skilled military personnel with fully autonomous systems.
Even the terminology is inflammatory with the idea of autonomy meaning different things to different groups.