Trinidad and Tobago, through the Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Legal Affairs, is leading the conversation alongside Caricom Impacs and Soka Gakkai International, to propose a zero-draft policy to the international community to govern the way legal automated weapon systems are used internationally.
These weapons, also called slaughterbots, use artificial intelligence (AI) to identify, select and kill human targets without human intervention. They are reportedly being used in the Russian-Ukraine war and were the subject of the Latin American and Caribbean Conference on the Social and Humanitarian Impact of Autonomous Weapons in July.
Speaking with members of the media during the tea break on the first of a two-day conference on the Human Impacts of Autonomous Weapons Systems at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Port-of-Spain, yesterday, Attorney General Reginald Armour said the weapons, which are powered by AI, do not value the lives of the average citizen and can therefore lead to civilian causalities.
“There is no possibility of a weapon being able to pause. If you just take the classic example, somebody is aiming a gun at somebody across the street and a child begins to run across the street, in the normal course of things a soldier who is manning that gun would pause because he recognises that he is about to interfere with the life of an innocent civilian. Where you have an algorithm powering that weapon, there is no pause, so that civilians are going to become major casualties to this new weapons system,” he said.
Armour said an international treaty will seek to regulate the responsible use of these new weapons systems which can cause “massive harm” to members of the public.
However, the AG said despite this threat, there are no current reports of such weapons being utilised in Trinidad and Tobago. He stressed the importance of this country’s involvement in calling for the regulated use of automated weapons.
“We are confident that we have a role to play. We punch above our weight in many respects, in many fora, and we are confident that we should take the lead in this particular discussion because it is critical to our security,” Armour said.
“Even as we acknowledge that our present challenges are pressing, we are not going to pause on our grasp of our future because our present challenges are constraining.”
Additionally, Armour declined to give a timeline as to when he fet these weapons could reach the Caribbean, but he said action is required now.
“I couldn’t predict that and I wouldn’t want to predict that. I would say it’s urgent. I would simply use the word urgent,” he said.
Meanwhile, National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds said while the Government has placed focus on the importation and distribution of arms, the August 30 discovery of “ghost firearms” which were manufactured by 3D printing technology, proves that technology continues to evolve, and so too should crime-fighting strategies.
“That investigation continues. The police, and to their great credit, acting on intelligence received had been monitoring certain circumstances around it for quite some time and I am aware that they did particularly good work to have landed them at that 3D manufacturing location,” he said.
Hinds said while many citizens condemn the TTPS, this probe calls for strong commendation of the lawmen involved in the case.