Musk, Hawking and Wozniak urge AI weapons ban

By midian182
Jul 28, 2015
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  1. Over 1000 high-profile artificial intelligence experts have signed an open letter calling for a ban on “offensive autonomous weapons”, warning that a military AI arms race could spell disaster for humanity.

    Professor Stephen Hawking, Tesla’s Elon Musk, Google DeepMind Chief Demis Hassabis, Noam Chomsky and Apple Co-founder Steve Wozniak were among those who added their names to the document, which will be presented tomorrow in Buenos Aires at the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence.

    “AI technology has reached a point where the deployment of [autonomous weapons] is – practically if not legally – feasible within years, not decades, and the stakes are high: autonomous weapons have been described as the third revolution in warfare, after gunpowder and nuclear arms […] 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, coordinated through the Future of Life Institute, adds that the development of lethal autonomous weapons could lead to a public backlash that would impede potentially beneficial AI research.

    Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking have both previously warned of the dangers of advanced artificial intelligence. Musk said that AI is “our biggest existential threat” and “potentially more dangerous than nukes”, while Hawking said that the technology could “spell the end of the human race.” Earlier this year, Bill Gates became another big name in the tech world to offer words of caution on the subject of advanced AI. The former Microsoft CEO said he was “in the camp that is concerned about super intelligence".

    In closing, the letter states, “We believe that AI has great potential to benefit humanity in many ways, and that the goal of the field should be to do so. Starting a military AI arms race is a bad idea, and should be prevented by a ban on offensive autonomous weapons beyond meaningful human control.”

    At a UN conference in Geneva in April discussing the future of weaponry, no country vigorously defended or argued for the development and deployment of lethal autonomous weapons systems, although the Czech Republic and Israel underlined that autonomous weapons systems may offer certain benefits. The US pursued a similar line of argument.

    Currently, there is no internationally agreed definition of what constitutes a lethal autonomous weapons system. Some states already deploy defense systems - such as Israel’s Iron Dome and the US Phalanx and C-Ram - that are programmed to respond automatically to threats from incoming munitions.

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  2. H3llion

    H3llion TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,248   +220

    No one will listen and the AI autonomous Weapons will get a go ahead, a "green" light. Shame.
    Swatkiller007 likes this.
  3. stewi0001

    stewi0001 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,136   +480

    Or we could have war of robots fighting robots
  4. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 2,729   +1,093

    Why do you say that? Chemical weapons are banned. Which really just means that democracies don't use them. Dictators don't' have a problem with it.

    The irony though, is that defense breeds a lot of technological advancement. For example, DARPA (a defense group) funds contents for all sorts of things every year in the hope of moving fields forward like automated driving and robotics.

    I'm personally not worried about it... I think all the concerns about AI weapons have been answered in the 80's movie Robocop. The 'Robocop' was only part robot... he still had a human brain. He was far more effective than the fully AI robot who couldn't be taught compassion or morality. I don't think we'll ever have weapons making their own decisions. The backlash of a mistake would be far too big to risk the investment.
  5. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 6,335   +1,937

    I agree with them but war is often profitable so they're prepared to throw billions of bucks at it, to hell with humankind, it's easily replaceable. It makes me sick.
    H3llion likes this.
  6. H3llion

    H3llion TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,248   +220

    Because profits / false terror > our safety I suppose.

    I can see this being used in warfare and the counter argument being (we save the lives of our soldiers and maximize output).

    However that is true, it will be few many more decades before we have fully advanced battle ready AI. It will happen but decades or centuries from now.

    You are right, this will certainly bring a lot of advancement in tech. The usage for Emergency services is countless and for Space exploration as well.

    Will just have to wait and see. Good on Elon, Hawkings and the reset. Unless they are merely looking for brownie points (I am so distrustful, never know the true intentions of anyone...).
  7. treeski

    treeski TS Evangelist Posts: 954   +193

    At some point, AI will decide to stop listening.
  8. EClyde

    EClyde TS Maniac Posts: 616   +143

    Geez....This is new? Not hardly. And it's full of it
  9. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 2,729   +1,093

    I believe their intentions are genuine. They're right about the public opinion problem it would cause. Look at vaccines... a Dr. (who is no longer allowed to practice medicine because of it) in England said that the MMR vaccine causes autism. Now there are measles outbreaks in the US because parents STILL believe it.

    The problem is, advanced weapons ironically make the world safer, not more dangerous. The US and Russia never went to war during the cold war arms race because both had nuclear weapons. The threat of mutual annihilation probably prevented a major war.

    Look at the deadliest wars in recent history (since guns were used)... the US Civil War, WWI, WWII... they were all terribly deadly because both sides were very evenly matched. Wars where one side was drastically stronger end in weeks, not years. Like Dessert Storm in 1991.

    This is why the US will never stop making new and advanced ways to kill an army. Sure, it's sad and we all wish we could rely on treaties to keep the peace. But the reality is that nothing keeps the peace like the threat of getting your a$$ handed to you in a war.
  10. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Evangelist Posts: 3,370   +2,164

    Fully autonomous kill bots are an inevitability. The case for removing human interference with combat drones is rather simple: it'll cut down on instances of PTSD (reducing the suicide rate) and prevent human errors that result in unnecessary causalities. Note that they are making a similar arguments for autonomous vehicles and the automation of major financial jobs (advisors and traders, specifically).

    The push for AI will be due to security concerns and an evolving warfare paradigm. Recall that in Robocop the manufacturer of the autonomous kill bots was quite public with their machines' performance. IRL, major mistakes and oversights are often buried, only to surface years or decades later. AI kill bots look better on paper than the trouble and cost of covering up mistakes.

    Terminator would be a more apt reference point: play with fire long enough, you'll get burned.
  11. Swatkiller007

    Swatkiller007 TS Rookie

    Exactly but what the US constantly forget is that they are not the core of technological advancement, if in the unlikely event that the US were to go to in a "cyber war" with a country like china which is a hub for Military technology advancements they would lose out right
  12. Kneep

    Kneep TS Rookie Posts: 43

    AI can't become self aware, this isn't tech like in the Terminator movies! They can't and won't turn on humanity!
  13. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Posts: 2,184   +1,215

    It is too late Intel is releasing Skynet next month ... ohh wait that's Skylake carry on.
  14. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 2,729   +1,093

    I could be completely wrong about this, but I'm not worried about a war with China. We depend on each other too much. We buy so much from them going to war with us wouldn't be in either of our best interest. I'd worry more about China's buddy, North Korea.
  15. risc32

    risc32 TS Booster Posts: 186   +75

    Exactly. People start fussing about how almost everything they buy is made in china and then they will say something about how china owns us and I just remind them that it's a two way street. We need their goods and they need our money. That's not to say I wouldn't keep an eye on them if I lived in Japan. I mean we are supposed to protect Japan, but we've been leaving other countries high and dry lately.
    . As already mentioned AI won't listen, that's almost it's core function. Actually of the listed dangers that AI could reap, I don't see one that is beyond the scope of a few soldiers. In fact these things have all been done for centuries, just not as remotely.
  16. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,891   +1,258

    Technically, I think we've had offensive autonomous weapons of a sort for a while - area denial weapons ( sub-munitions, landmines and the like). As for A.I. controlled, I can see why Bill Gates would speak out against it...would you trust a lethal robot running Windows?

  17. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 11,457   +1,759

    Steve Wozniak made the world a better place when he got booted off of "Dancing with the Stars". Maybe he should rest on those laurels.

    And mercifully, Steven Hawking never entered the competition.

    I skimmed the rest of the comments and didn't see any references to "Skynet".

    I think we should embrace the coming of our computer overlords. There will be more doing, and less parasites in Congress to eat up our tax money and take corporate.bribes.

    Then too, on a glorious summer evening, just after sunset, you'll be able to sit on your lawn, and watch opposing government's satellites shoot one another down. Everyday will be fourth of July, when the robot wars begin...(y)

    Chicken little will have to change his tune to, "the space junk is falling, the space junk is falling".

    And before I forget, don't answer the door when the Amazon drone is dropping off packages. You can never tell which one might be armed.
  18. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 11,457   +1,759

    Yeah well, the movie was scripted to end with human intelligence in triumph over AI, It allowed the movie goers to walk away all warm and fuzzy, and smug in the superiority over the machine.

    Real life isn't a movie plot, and although good eventually seems to triumph over evil, millions of lives may be lost in the process.

    And by the way, living beings who can't be taught compassion or morality actually exist! They're called, "sociopaths"!

    Some have learned to hide that better than others. They're called "Wall Street Bankers", and of course, "CEO's", and last but surely not least, "politicians"!
  19. OgnDulk

    OgnDulk TS Enthusiast Posts: 26   +6

    Nobody cares what these eggheads say and that is the great folly of our civilization.
  20. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 11,457   +1,759

    Yeah well, they're supposed to supply the weapons, not denounce them....:oops:

    Most of the civilization seems to listen to Sean Combs, Kim Kasdashian, even the newly minted "Kaitlin Jenner". So, maybe we should have them plead the "no robot mercenaries", cause.

    But then you have to ask yourself, "do I really want these sideshow freaks speaking on my behalf"?

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