Tech Leaders Ask the UN to Outlaw Robot Weapons - Atlas Obscura
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Tech Leaders Ask the UN to Outlaw Robot Weapons

Let’s try not to automate our own destruction.

Let's not put a gun in these hands.
Let’s not put a gun in these hands. DARPA/Public Domain

Each day, robots and artificial intelligence (AI) are becoming more and more sophisticated, and are infiltrating nearly every part of our lives. It is perhaps only a matter of time before arming AI-powered robots starts to seem like a good idea (or they decide to arm themselves). More than 100 tech luminaries and CEOs of robotics companies recently lent their names to a request to forestall this future, which what they call a “third revolution” in warfare.

As shared in a story by The Guardian, an open letter from experts across the world is appealing to the United Nations to ban autonomous weaponry under the same international rules that govern chemical weapons. They hope it will also inspire discussion of the issue at the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI). Like a similar letter presented at the IJCAI two years ago, this statement stresses that automated weaponry could lead to warfare that humans would likely not be able to control. The letter argues that things such as autonomous tanks, drones, and guns could enact war “at timescales faster than humans can comprehend.”

Among the high-profile names that have signed the open letter is tech figurehead Elon Musk, who also signed off on the previous letter and recently had a showdown over AI with Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg. With both AI technology and automated weaponry developing at what some feel is a dangerous speed, Musk and the others hope that serious discussion and regulation will keep things from getting out of hand too quickly. Autonomous robotics (What’s your Roomba up to right now?) are becoming more and more a part of our lives each day. These experts want to make sure they’re not also part of our deaths.