If any major military power pushes ahead with AI weapon development, a global arms race is virtually inevitable, and the endpoint of this technological trajectory is obvious: autonomous weapons will become the Kalashnikovs of tomorrow.
The problem with this argument is that no letter, UN declaration, or even a formal ban ratified by multiple nations is going to prevent people from being able to build autonomous, weaponized robots.
Generally speaking, technology itself is not inherently good or bad: it’s what we choose to do with it that’s good or bad, and you can’t just cover your eyes and start screaming “STOP!!!” if you see something sinister on the horizon when there’s so much simultaneous potential for positive progress.
"...the world community has rather successfully banned biological weapons, space-based nuclear weapons, and blinding laser weapons; and even for arms such as chemical weapons, land mines, and cluster munitions where bans have been breached or not universally ratified, severe stigmatization has limited their use.""...the key issue is the likely consequences of an arms race — for example, the availability on the black market of mass quantities of low-cost, anti-personnel micro-robots that can be deployed by one person to anonymously kill thousands or millions of people who meet the user’s targeting criteria. Autonomous weapons are potentially weapons of mass destruction."
I'm not really a weapons designer, but it's only a small extrapolation from the DARPA FLA program (small high-speed quadcopters zooming in and out of buildings) and the CODE program ("hunting in packs like wolves") to imagine dumping truckloads of flying microrobots the size of large insects, each carrying a 1g shaped charge to blow holes in peoples' heads or a microrifle to shoot their eyes out. They might need some larger ones to blow holes in doors and walls and stop vehicles. They are totally expendable and very cheap. Planners also seem to be thinking about naval and air-to-air combat which would involve much more expensive assets, but the principle is the same — overwhelming numbers, cooperative behaviors, etc.