The threat of autonomous killer robots is very real and we have to stop them before it's too late. Such is the theme of many a sci-fi film, but it’s now also the official position of Human Rights Watch, which today published a 50-page report titled “Losing Humanity” that calls for an international treaty banning fully autonomous weapons technology from the battlefield. That makes perfect sense, though HRW is taking a rather straightforward stance toward technology and terminology that is anything but. Defining autonomy and just how autonomous is “fully autonomous” makes this a difficult issue to talk about in regulatory terms, much less to ban outright under internationally recognized rules of war.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.