June 8, 2021, 03.00 PM

She has proposed "an independent process, guided by states that actually are serious about this issue and willing to develop strong standards to regulate these weapon systems."

But many are wary of this idea. Germany's foreign minister has been a vocal proponent of a ban, but he does not support the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots.

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"We don't reject it in substance — we're just saying that we want others to be included," Heiko Maas told DW. "Military powers that are technologically in a position not just to develop autonomous weapons but also to use them."

Maas does agree that a treaty must be the ultimate goal. "Just like we managed to do with nuclear weapons over many decades, we have to forge international treaties on new weapons technologies," he said.

"They need to make clear that we agree that some developments that are technically possible are not acceptable and must be prohibited globally."

Germany's Heiko Maas in DW interview: 'We're moving toward a situation with cyber or autonomous weapons where everyone can do as they please' Germany's Heiko Maas in DW interview: 'We're moving toward a situation with cyber or autonomous weapons where everyone can do as they please'

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What next?

But for now, there is no consensus. For Franke, the best the world can hope for may be norms around how technologies are used.

"You agree, for example, to use certain capabilities only in a defensive way, or only against machines rather than humans, or only in certain contexts," she said.=

Even this will be a challenge. "Agreeing to that and then implementing that is just much harder than some of the old arms control agreements," she said.

And while diplomats tiptoe around these hurdles, the technology marches on.

"The world must take an interest in the fact that we're moving toward a situation with cyber or autonomous weapons where everyone can do as they please," said Maas. "We don't want that."
For more, watch the full documentary Future Wars on YouTube.

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