Elon Musk Backed By 116 Experts Has Called For A Complete Ban On The Development Of Killer Robots
The open letter signed by 116 experts including Elon Musk and British AI entrepreneur Mustafa Suleyman has called on the UN to block use and development of lethal autonomous weapons.
It is thought the development of such technology could lead us into a whole new way of war, leaving those without autonomous weapons at the mercy of armies with the advanced weaponry. The letter reads- ‘lethal autonomous weapons will permit armed conflict to be fought at a scale greater than ever, and at timescales faster than humans can comprehend.’
The letter addressed to the UN has grouped together 116 of the world’s leading AI and robotics leaders from 26 countries to ban the development and use of killer robots. In a recent vote the UN started a formal discussions on the use of such weapons including: drones, tanks and automated machine guns. The group decided to send this letter prior to these discussions starting.
Experts have warned that this arms race would lead us into the “third revolution in warfare” preceding arms, then nuclear arms. The letter stated: “These can be weapons of terror, weapons that despots and terrorists use against innocent populations, and weapons hacked to behave in undesirable ways.” it continued “We do not have long to act. Once this Pandora’s box is opened, it will be hard to close.”
Experts now believe technology is at the point where the deployment of such weapons is possible within a few short years. There is the argument that AI could be deployed to make the battlefield safer, of course this could lead to justification for more war, should troops be less at risk. This could of course eventually lead safer battlefields, but more war and a greater loss of life on all sides of a conflict.
The letter, which was launched at the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI) in Melbourne this Monday, has been backed by many high-profile figures in the field of robotics and has expressed a need for swift action.
The UN have been forced to delay a meeting they were holding starting on Monday to review the letters content. The experts are calling for “morally wrong” autonomous weapons systems to be put on the UN’s convention on certain conventional weapons (CCW), a list of banned weapons which was brought into force in 1983.
Toby Walsh, Scientia professor of artificial intelligence at the University of New South Wales, has said: “Nearly every technology can be used for good and bad, and artificial intelligence is no different. It can help tackle many of the pressing problems facing society today: inequality and poverty, the challenges posed by climate change and the ongoing global financial crisis. However, the same technology can also be used in autonomous weapons to industrialise war. We need to make decisions today choosing which of these futures we want.”
Ryan Gariepy, founder of Clearpath Robotics has said: “Unlike other potential manifestations of AI which still remain in the realm of science fiction, autonomous weapons systems are on the cusp of development right now and have a very real potential to cause significant harm to innocent people along with global instability.”
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