19/12/2016 13:41 GMT | Updated 19/12/2016 13:45 GMT

The UN Will Finally Decide In 2017 If Armies Can Use 'Killer Robots'

Government are said to be one step closer to a ban.

The UN is set to tackle the issue of killer robots amid concerns from Silicon Valley leaders and human rights organisations over the threat they pose to humanity.

Delegates representing 123 nations at the Convention on Conventional Weapons have agreed to form a group next year to address their use.

Human Rights Watch said the meeting marked a step “towards a ban” on weapons that can strike without human intervention.

Ho New / Reuters

It comes after a number of prominent Silicon Valley figures, including Stephen Hawking and Tesla’s Elon Musk, spoke out about such weapons.

Dozens of artificial intelligence experts signed a letter last year, calling for an outright ban on the development of AI weapons.

The letter warned that killer robots would lower the threshold for going into battle and could help subdue populations and aid acts of genocide.

“The governments meeting in Geneva took an important step toward stemming the development of killer robots, but there is no time to lose” said Steve Goose, arms director of Human Rights Watch, a co-founder of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots.

“Once these weapons exist, there will be no stopping them. The time to act on a pre-emptive ban is now.”

In the letter, the experts warned: “Autonomous weapons are ideal for tasks such as assassinations, destabilizing nations, subduing populations and selectively killing a particular ethnic group. We therefore believe that a military AI arms race would not be beneficial for humanity.”

Musk has been one of the most vocal critics of AI, warning in 2014 that it posed a greater existential threat to humanity than nuclear weapons.