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.
Located in northern Bangladesh, Rangpur district is situated at the confluence of five major rivers. It is known not only for its fishing culture, but also its vulnerability to extreme weather events, which are being exacerbated by climate changee.
For Mosammat Forijon Khatun, a 50-year-old resident of Gangachara, Rangpur, the fear and devastation caused by the floods of 2017 remain fresh in her mind. “I remember how our home was damaged. Our livestock was harmed, and our crop lands were destroyed,” she recalls. “One of our relatives lost his home completely – there was no trace left.”
Many families in the area live in precarious conditions. As Mosammat explained, if the water starts to rise and flood their homes, there are few options for moving elsewhere, especially for those who don’t own other land. “What is there to do? If I see the river is flooding and the water is reaching my house, I will have to stay here,” she said. “Even if the water reaches our waist, we will stay put and put the beds up high.”