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Fears futuristic weapons like space missiles and killer robots could spark World War 3 as Nato urged to curb sci-fi arms race

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas warned such futuristic weapons would "soon become a deadly reality", and urged Nato that new thinking was required in order for the rules of warfare to keep pace.

Nato will convene to discuss disarmament this week, but Maas said discussions had to move beyond Russia and begin dealing with the crossroads the planet was at.

Such recent next-generation weapons include Russia and Britain recently unveiling AI-enhanced supersonic fighter jets, smart nuclear weapons, and autonomous tanks

Now Nato must extend the conversation beyond chemical and nuclear, and into space and artificial intelligence technologies, Maas said.

There are many who have voiced concerns over an impending World War Three, with Nato, Russia and China all recently performing massive war games in preparation for future armed conflicts.


Meanwhile top military and intelligence brass have warned that a massive clash between developed nations is becoming a distinct possibility, with one US commander saying war with China was likely within 15 years.

Maas is quoted in The Times as saying: "I’m also thinking of fully automated weapons systems that can kill entirely independent of human control."

Currently such weapons are illegal under The Geneva Convention, which dictate that a human actor must be involved in any act of warfare, but this can be reduced to the pressing of a button.

The German is also expected to raise fears around China being outside global disarmament treaties, such as the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty originally signed by Russia and the USA banning land-based mid-range nuclear missiles and launchers.

The moves come as Trump and the US are reportedly seeking to push for controls on missiles and hi-tech weapons to counter China's growing arsenal.




Maas told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung newspaper: “It’s a question of the survival of humanity.”

Speaking to The Sun Online, Noel Sharkey, a professor of artificial intelligence and robots at the University of Sheffield, said previously any prospect of large armies meeting on a battlefield was gone.

The rise of drone warfare, which would have been deemed science fiction a decade ago, was proof of the leaps warfare has taken.

He is part of an organisation lobbying to have intelligent killer robots banned, a prospect he is hopeful for.

Any claim that AI weapons would shorten war or keep soldiers and civilians out of harms way were rubbish, Sharkey said.

The principal of force multiplication would also apply, and the runaway effect of a conflict between autonomous robots would be totally unpredictable.

"What happens when one swarm meets another? No one knows, it's like the wall street crash."



 

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