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Artificial Intelligence and Robotics: Elon Musk, AI researchers sound alarm over killer robots

Elon Musk, founder, CEO & CTO of SpaceX, co-founder & CEO of Tesla Motor was the more illustrious of tech leaders who penned an open letter to the UN’s Conference of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons over AI use in warfare. Picking up on the Asilomar AI Principles warning that an AI arms race in lethal weapons that do not require human control be avoided, 0ne hundred and sixty five AI researchers and founders of Artificial Intelligence and Robotics companies sounded a clarion call.

Artificial Intelligence and Robotics

Much has been said about the likely impact of Artificial Intelligence and Robotics to jobs leading to early retirement, transportation, healthcare and the impact of this fourth industrial revolution on health research. Few have considered its attractions to warfare

Open letter on  Artificial Intelligence and Robotics fronting the third revolution in warfare vide lethal autonomous weapons

As companies building the technologies in Artificial Intelligence and Robotics that may be repurposed to develop autonomous weapons, we feel especially responsible in raising this alarm.

We warmly welcome the decision of the UN’s Conference of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) to establish a Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems. Many of our researchers and engineers are eager to offer technical advice to your deliberations.

We commend the appointment of Ambassador Amandeep Singh Gill of India as chair of the GGE. We entreat the High Contracting Parties participating in the GGE to work hard at finding means to prevent an arms race in these weapons, to protect civilians from their misuse, and to avoid the destabilizing effects of these technologies.

We regret that the GGE’s first meeting, which was due to start today, has been cancelled due to a small number of states failing to pay their financial contributions to the UN. We urge the High Contracting Parties therefore to double their efforts at the first meeting of the GGE now planned for November.

Lethal autonomous weapons threaten to become the third revolution in warfare. Once developed, they will permit armed conflict to be fought at a scale greater than ever, and at timescales faster than humans can comprehend. These can be weapons of terror, weapons that despots and terrorists use against innocent populations, and weapons hacked to behave in undesirable ways.
We do not have long to act. Once this Pandora’s box is opened, it will be hard to close.

We therefore implore the High Contracting Parties to find a way to protect us all from all these dangers.

Alarmist or not; the full list of signatories of the 2017 Open Letter to the United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, provides a good representation of leading lights in robotics and artificial intelligence. Not only will the 21st century be shaped by these guys, therein might lie future Nobel Peace Prize winners and the likes.

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