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article imageHawking, Musk urge ban on military AI and autonomous weapons

By Caroline Leopold     Jul 28, 2015 in Technology
Over 1,000 high-profile artificial intelligence experts and leading researchers have signed an open letter warning of an artificial intelligence arms race and calling for a ban on autonomous weapons.
Over 1,000 high-profile artificial intelligence researchers, scientists, and technology leaders have signed an open letter warning of a “military artificial intelligence arms race” and calling for a ban on “offensive autonomous weapons.”
The open letter was presented on Tuesday at the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Among the 1,000 signers were robotics researchers and prominent figures in technology and computer science including Tesla’s Elon Musk, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, Google DeepMind chief executive Demis Hassabis and professor emeritus Noam Chomsky.
Stephen Hawking, a co-signer, mentioned the letter on Reddit on Monday: "The letter acknowledges that AI might one day help eradicate disease and poverty, but it also puts the onus on scientists at the forefront of this technology to keep the human factor front and center of their innovations."
"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," the letter states.
"There are many ways in which AI can make battlefields safer for humans, especially civilians, without creating new tools for killing people."
Elon Musk, who invests in AI, sees its dangers. He told The Guardian, “I think we should be very careful about artificial intelligence. I’m increasingly inclined to think that there should be some regulatory oversight, maybe at the national and international level, just to make sure that we don’t do something very foolish.”
The challenge is the autonomous weapons race is already underway. Weapons that are being developed by the U.S., UK, Israel and Norway are using various autonomous warfare, from drones to robots meant to kill a specific person.
Feelings of responsibility among scientists for using discoveries for war are not new. Albert Einstein's work made the atomic bomb possible and then he devoted his energy to opposing nuclear weapons and war.
More about autonomous weapons, military AI, elon musk, Stephen Hawking
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