Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking and Steve Wozniak lead AI experts who want killer robots banned

Hundreds of the world’s top robotics and artificial intelligence experts have issued an open letter urging the United Nations to put a ban on dangerous autonomous weapons systems. The letter is signed by nearly 700 researchers and more than 600 other experts counting famed physicist Stephen Hawking , Elon Musk, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniack, Skype co-founder Jaan Talinn and activist philosopher Noam Chomsky. Its issue accords with the first day of the world’s most admired AI conference, the 2015 International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence. The letter says that the manufacturing of autonomous weapons is possible within years and will play a risky role in driving a third revolution in warfare, after gunpowder and nuclear arms. The researchers say that substituting human soldiers by machines is good by decreasing fatalities but bad because it lowers the threshold for going to battle.
Image: Terminator 2: Judgement Day, James Cameron/TriStar Pictures



The open letter:

Autonomous Weapons: An Open Letter from AI & Robotics Researchers

“Autonomous weapons select and engage targets without human intervention. They might include, for example, armed quadcopters that can search for and eliminate people meeting certain pre-defined criteria, but do not include cruise missiles or remotely piloted drones for which humans make all targeting decisions. Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology has reached a point where the deployment of such systems is - practically if not legally - feasible within years, not decades, and the stakes are high: autonomous weapons have been described as the third revolution in warfare, after gunpowder and nuclear arms.

Many arguments have been made for and against autonomous weapons, for example that replacing human soldiers by machines is good by reducing casualties for the owner but bad by thereby lowering the threshold for going to battle. The key question for humanity today is whether to start a global AI arms race or to prevent it from starting. 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.

Unlike nuclear weapons, they require no costly or hard-to-obtain raw materials, so they will become ubiquitous and cheap for all significant military powers to mass-produce. It will only be a matter of time until they appear on the black market and in the hands of terrorists, dictators wishing to better control their populace, warlords wishing to perpetrate ethnic cleansing, etc. Autonomous weapons are ideal for tasks such as assassinations, destabilising nations, subduing populations and selectively killing a particular ethnic group.

We therefore believe that a military AI arms race would not be beneficial for humanity. There are many ways in which AI can make battlefields safer for humans, especially civilians, without creating new tools for killing people.

Just as most chemists and biologists have no interest in building chemical or biological weapons, most AI researchers have no interest in building AI weapons - and do not want others to tarnish their field by doing so, potentially creating a major public backlash against AI that curtails its future societal benefits. Indeed, chemists and biologists have broadly supported international agreements that have successfully prohibited chemical and biological weapons, just as most physicists supported the treaties banning space-based nuclear weapons and blinding laser weapons.


In summary, we believe that AI has great potential to benefit humanity in many ways, and that the goal of the field should be to do so. Starting a military AI arms race is a bad idea, and should be prevented by a ban on offensive autonomous weapons beyond meaningful human control.”
This post was written by Umer Abrar. To contact the author of this post, write to mirzavadoodulbaig@gmail.com or add/follow him on facebook :

Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking and Steve Wozniak lead AI experts who want killer robots banned Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking and Steve Wozniak lead AI experts who want killer robots banned Reviewed by Umer Abrar on 7/29/2015 Rating: 5

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