It’s the stuff of science fiction: machines that make decisions about who and when to kill. Referred to as “autonomous weapons”, they’re already in use to some degree. But as more sophisticated systems are being developed we wanted to an expert in the field about whether such systems comply with international humanitarian law and what it means for humanity to give machines the power over human life and death.
It’s early summer in northeastern Syria and it’s already hot, pushing 35 degrees, when Ahmada Mohamedy Siogope starts his one-hour commute to work. The ICRC bus takes Ahmada and his colleagues from Al-Hasakah to the town of Al Hol, in northeastern Syria. Just outside of Al Hol, the bus pulls into a camp for 65,000 people displaced by conflict.
“It’s just 10 o’clock in the morning and it’s about 40 degrees outside,” says Ahmada, as he begins his shift as head nurse at an ICRC field hospital at the camp. “But this is the life in Al Hol.”
Ahmada took RCRC magazine along on a virtual tour, sharing some of his daily duties by recording short video segments on his cell phone and by speaking with us after work via computer as part of our Expert Sources series.
“With Covid, we are having challenges,” he tells us. “You can imagine living in the tent when it’s plus-50 degrees. It’s too hot and people don’t have any air-conditioning or fans to keep them comfortable. So you have a lot of challenges of children with a lot of dehydration.”