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.
“We are usually the first people they meet when they come to our country,” says Sami Rahikainen, who works with other Finnish Red Cross volunteers that welcome people arriving in Finland as part of country’s resettlement programme. “We try to give people as smooth an arrival as possible.”
“Many have been travelling a long time, even two to three days,” he says, standing in arrivals gate area of Helsinki International Airport, as airplanes taxi to their gates in the background. The people he greets may have started their journey to safety long before they boarded the airplanes, however. Some may have survived conflict or lived in a refugee camps for a long time, while other people may have experienced trauma or have health issues.
“So we try to offer them support and create trust by offering the warmest welcome we can — with our actions, being present and creating a safe environment.”
In this 5-minute video, filmed by Sami using his own smart phone, he offers some tips his team has learned. Create a safe and calm atmosphere, think ahead and provide information that helps them prepare for what happens next. “Sometimes those arriving are too tired or even afraid to ask questions,” he says. “So offering information is one part of creating trust.”