A coordinated international coalition of non-governmental organizations dedicated to bringing about a preemptive ban of fully autonomous weaponry -- The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots -- was started in April 2013. A breakthrough was reached in 2016 when the fifth review conference of the United Nations Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) saw countries hold formal talks to expand their deliberations on fully autonomous weapons. The conference also saw the establishment of a Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) chaired by India's ambassador to the U.N., Amandeep Gill. According to Human Rights Watch, over a dozen countries are developing autonomous weapon systems.
Autonomous weapons refer to military devices that utilize artificial intelligence in applications like determining targets to attack or avoid. "We should not lose sight of the fact that, unlike other potential manifestations of AI which still remain in the realm of science fiction, autonomous weapons systems are on the cusp of development right now and have a very real potential to cause significant harm to innocent people along with global instability." For observers like the letter's signees, much of their concern over artificial intelligence isn't about science fiction hypotheticals like Gariepy alludes to. On Musk's part, the Tesla CEO has been a longtime supporter of increased regulation for artificial intelligence research and has regularly argued that, if left unchecked, it could pose a risk to the future of mankind.
Shifting from the drone policy of the Obama administration, President Donald Trump has given the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) new authority to conduct drone attacks against suspected militants, anonymous U.S. officials said. Under the Obama administration, the CIA used drones and other intelligence resources to locate suspected terrorists and then the military conducted the actual strike. Although officials said that the new authority under Trump is only for CIA's operations in Syria, it is likely the CIA may be able to conduct drone strikes in other areas as well. "There are a lot of problems with the drone program and the targeted killing program, but the CIA should be out of the business of ordering lethal strikes," said Christopher Anders, deputy director of the Washington office of the American Civil Liberties Union.
A suspected U.S. drone strike killed four members of al Qaeda's Yemen branch, including a local commander, two unidentified officials in Yemen said Saturday. On Thursday, a drone strike on a vehicle in al-Bayda province in central Yemen killed a senior AQAP leader known as Abdallah al-Sanaani. The U.S. has carried out drone strikes to target the Islamist militant group that has been exploiting Yemen's civil war, which has left at least 10,000 dead since fighting escalated in March 2015. The U.S. has targeted AQAP many times in recent years, and in 2011, Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born cleric, who had reportedly become an al Qaeda leader in Yemen, was killed in an airstrike.