(Peter Lee, Professor of Applied Ethics and Director of Security and Risk Research at the University of Portsmouth)
Portsmouth (UK), Aug 6 (The Conversation) The recent killing of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has deepened mistrust between US leaders and the Taliban government in Afghanistan. . This incident has also raised questions about the Doha peace agreement between the US and the Taliban in 2020.
Simultaneously, a new story is emerging with wide-ranging implications: the speed and nature of international weapons being developed. Take the Hellfire R9X ‘Ninja’ missile – the weapon allegedly used to kill al-Zawahiri:
This missile was originally used to destroy Soviet tanks in the 1970s and 1980s. This was followed by the development of several versions in the 1990s with different capabilities. These can be fired from ‘Reaper’ drones or helicopters.
The Hellfire R9X ‘Ninja’ is not a new weapon. It was allegedly used to kill al-Qaeda terrorist Abu Khair al-Masri in Syria in 2017.
Hellfire missiles are specially designed missiles. These covert missiles are used to carry out precision strikes aimed at killing terrorists.
‘Destroyer (Super) Weapon’
The ‘Ninja’ missile does not explode when fired and the damage is also very less. At the same time, the chances of casualties to the common people are also less. These are capable of hitting their targets without causing harm to persons and property, but other ‘super’ weapons can change the way people live and fight wars. Russia has invested heavily in so-called ‘super’ weapons based on outdated technologies. Russia’s Avangard missile is very difficult to detect. Similarly, China’s DF-17 hypersonic ballistic missile has also been developed with the intention of avoiding the US missile defense system.
‘The Age of Autonomous Weapons’
On a smaller scale, there is an increasing presence of machine gun-armed robotic dogs in the arms market. Turkey, meanwhile, claims it has developed four types of autonomous drones that can identify and shoot down targets without the instruction of a human operator or GPS. According to a UN report of March 2021, Libya is already using these weapons.
new rules of war
Are new laws or treaties needed to limit these future weapons? In short, the answer is ‘yes’, but they seem unlikely. The US has called for a global agreement to stop anti-satellite missile tests – but no initiative has been taken. In contrast, the US has withdrawn from the ‘Middle Range Nuclear Power Treaty’.
Lethal autonomous weapon systems are a special class of emerging weapon systems. They make their decisions using machine learning and other forms of artificial intelligence and do not require human intervention.
New rules for autonomous weapons systems
The ‘Stop the Killer Robots’ group has called for an international ban on lethal autonomous weapon systems. There is an undeclared deadlock in Geneva over the UN discussion on autonomous weapons.
With the growing potential for future use of autonomous weapons, new rules are needed to control them.
The Conversation Simmi Suresh
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'Ninja' missile used to kill Zawahiri part of new generation of dangerous uncontrolled weapons