Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk, Professor Stephen Hawking and more than 1.000 other scientists and robot engineers warn that militarized AIs (artificial intelligences) will take us all by surprise and cause unimaginable damage if we don’t start taking action against such a development.
They’ve all signed an open letter that they published earlier this week, on Monday (July 27, 2015), from the Future of Life Institute, a nonprofit organization. What the letter does is ask for a ban to be put on autonomous weapon development so that we can prevent the global arms race centered on killer robots.
Supports of militarized AIs (the Pentagon for instance) claim that the technology would be of great help to soldiers as they would keep human troops out of danger, increase drone precision, and eliminate (or at least reduce) emotional or irrational decisions made on the battlefield.
On the other hand, opponents and critics (Pete Spotts from The Christian Science Monitor for instance) say that removing humans from such a delicate scenario would not only lead straight to human rights violations, but also cause a lot of trouble involving international laws.
The recently released letter informs that if any of the world’s major military powers were to start developing AI weapons, a global arms race would become virtually inevitable and at the end of it all autonomous killer robots would become “the Kalashnikovs of tomorrow”.
The experts warn that while nuclear weapons are quite costly and the materials for them aren’t exactly easy to find, killer robots would not only be cheap to make, but they’d also require raw materials that would not be hard to obtain.
The direct consequence of such a scenario is that all of the world’s major military powers would start mass-producing the militarized AIs and using them for tasks like assassinations, subduing populations, destabilizing nations and the selective killing of a specific ethnic group.
The letter concluded that “a military AI arms race would not be beneficial for humanity”.
Professor Hawking in particular seems to have a strong voice as he gave a statement to BBC in 2014, saying that “the development of full artificial intelligence” may mean the end of humanity. He believes that these smart machines would redesign themselves at an increasing rate, and humans would end up superseded due to their slow biological evolution.
But Stephen Goose, director of arms-control activities over at Human Rights Watch and field experts who signed the letter, also gave a statement saying that none of the names of the letter are against robots or against autonomy, they simply worry about humans losing meaningful control over key combat decisions.
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