Scientists, arms experts and political leaders warned at an elite gathering in the Swiss Alps that it may be too late for humanity to advert the dangers that will come along with the development of lethal autonomous technology.
Rules must be agreed upon to prevent the development of such weapons, they said at a January 19-23 meeting of scientists, billionaires, bankers and political leaders at the ski resort of Davos.
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From Yahoo News:
Angela Kane, the German UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs from 2012-2015, said the world had been slow to take pre-emptive measures to protect humanity from the lethal technology.
“It may be too late,” she told a debate in Davos.
“There are many countries and many representatives in the international community that really do not understand what is involved. This development is something that is limited to a certain number of advanced countries,” Kane said.
The deployment of autonomous weapons would represent a dangerous new era in warfare, scientists said.
“We are not talking about drones, where a human pilot is controlling the drone,” said Stuart Russell, professor of computer science at University of California, Berkeley.
“We are talking about autonomous weapons, which means that there is no one behind it. AI: artificial intelligence weapons,” he told a forum in Davos. “Very precisely, weapons that can locate and attack targets without human intervention.”
Questions were raised as to whether robots could follow the rules of war.
“It means that humans are deprived from moral responsibility,” Alan Winfield, a electronic engineering at the University of the West of England said at Davos. “When you put a robot in a chaotic environment, it behaves chaotically.”
Roger Carr, chairman of the British aerospace and defense group, BAE, agreed with Winfield.
“If you remove ethics and judgement and morality from human endeavour whether it is in peace or war, you will take humanity to another level which is beyond our comprehension,” Carr warned. “You equally cannot put something into the field that, if it malfunctions, can be very destructive with no control mechanism from a human. That is why the umbilical link, man to machine, is not only to decide when to deploy the weapon but it is also the ability to stop the process. Both are equally important.”
Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, physicist Stephen Hawking and other tech luminaries signed an open letter in July warning of the dangers of a global arms race of artificial intelligence (AI) technology and urged the United Nations to place a ban on weapons that humans “have no meaningful control over.”
“The key question for humanity today is whether to start a global AI arms race or to prevent it from starting. 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 reads.
To get a idea of where the field of robotics and automation is at just take a look at this video from The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency which has a long history of developing robots.