Technology's Top Minds Warn Against Killer Robots

They fear autonomous weapons will lead to AI arms race
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 28, 2015 3:01 AM CDT
Updated Jul 28, 2015 5:45 AM CDT
Technology's Top Minds Warn Against Killer Robots
Humanoid robot Pepper, seen on display at a SoftBank mobile shop in Tokyo, is completely harmless—for now.   (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara, File)

Good news, humanity: A group of people capable of creating a truly fearsome army of killer robots have made it clear that they're firmly opposed to the concept of "offensive autonomous weapons." An open letter warning against a "military artificial intelligence arms race" was signed by Stephen Hawking, Tesla's Elon Musk, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, and more than 1,000 other artificial intelligence researchers and robotics experts, the Guardian reports. They warn that weapons that "select and engage targets without human intervention" could be "feasible within years, not decades," and a "global arms race is virtually inevitable" if any major power deploys such weapons.

"Autonomous weapons are ideal for tasks such as assassinations, destabilizing nations, subduing populations, and selectively killing a particular ethnic group," and without a ban, they could end up in the hands of dictators and warlords, becoming the "Kalashnikovs of tomorrow," the experts warn. The letter was presented by the Future of Life Institute at the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Argentina, reports the Wall Street Journal, which notes that conference organizers say they'll focus on the "optimism" researchers have for advances in AI. (This isn't the first time Hawking has warned that AI could doom the human race.)

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