After a week of discussions regarding the future of “lethal autonomous weapon systems” (LAWS) in Geneva, Russia took an in-character stand against the United Nations’ position that drones should not be developed to autonomously conduct military operations that involve taking human lives without any human operator input.  Although the intention of the UN meeting was to establish a framework for banning fully autonomous “killer robots,” Russia’s refusal to accept a ban, or even any form of regulation regarding the topic, made for too large a hurdle for the assembly to overcome.

According to a Russian statement released during the event, Russia believes the current understanding of the ability and applications of such robots is lacking in the international community, and as such, banning or regulating such an enterprise would be a futile effort.

Certainly, there are precedents of reaching international agreements that establish a preventive ban on prospective types of weapons. However, this can hardly be considered as an argument for taking preventive prohibitive or restrictive measures against LAWS being a by far more complex and wide class of weapons of which the current understanding of humankind is rather approximate.”

Russia made a well-reasoned argument against stifling the development of new technologies with further reaching implications than simply producing “killer” robots, though it could be argued that participating in meaningful discussion about how to responsibly pursue new forms of military robotics could still have produced positive results.