Thousands of scientists specialising in AI plus SpaceX founder Elon Musk and Demis Hassabis at Google DeepMind have announced they will not help develop or manufacture robots with autonomous weapons.
A total of 2,400 signatures have been gathered so far and that number is expected to rise as the pledge against autonomous weapons continues. The scientists are seeking the introduction of laws for military firms and nations to stop the production of any lethal autonomous weapon system. Currently, the military is one of the largest funders and adopters of AI technology, and without legislation in place, the production of robots with weapons could be very hard to control.
AI is advancing very quickly, and in the future it is expected that AI will act just like humans, able to make its own decisions. If equipped with weapons, an autonomous robot could decide for itself to fire or not (without human control) and could cause the death of many innocent people.
In addition, they could be easily hacked and used for terrorist activities, said Toby Walsh, a professor of AI at the University of New South Wales in Sydney: "We need to make it the international norm that autonomous weapons are not acceptable. A human must always be in the loop.
"We cannot stop a determined person from building autonomous weapons, just as we cannot stop a determined person from building a chemical weapon. But if we don't want rogue states or terrorists to have easy access to autonomous weapons, we must ensure they are not sold openly by arms companies."
UK ministers have stated that Britain is not developing lethal autonomous weapons systems and that its forces will always have oversight and control of the weapons it deploys.
It's not just individual scientists who are putting their opinions accross; at the International Joint Conference on AI in Stockholm today, more than 150 AI-related companies who have also signed the pledge will be unveiled.
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