Autonomous weapons will “appear on the black market and in the hands of terrorists”, warn prominent researchers like Stuart Russell, Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking.
More than 2,000 Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Robotics researchers and more than 10,000 other people signed an open letter asking governments to avoid the temptation of producing autonomous warfare weapons.
“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”, the letter says.
This type of machines select and engage human targets without human intervention, and could be “used within years, not decades”. “The stakes are high: autonomous weapons have been described as the third revolution in warfare, after gunpowder and nuclear arms”.
“The key question for humanity today – the statement continues – is whether to start a global AI arms race or to prevent it from starting”.
A NEW AND DANGEROUS ARMS RACE
“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”, the text warns.
“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, destabilizing 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.”
Therefore, researchers asks to “ban” the development of this kind of military technology. Governments of countries like Great Britain, USA and Russia are already experiencing with autonomous weapons.
Among the signatories of the text are physicist Stepehn Hawking, Elon Musk (CEO of SpaceX, Telsa Motor), linguist and author Noam Chomsky and co-founder of Apple Steve Wozniak.