Building on his apocalyptic vision of the future (as writ by Terminator-style Skynet domination or Robocops walking the streets), Tesla CEO Elon Musk (and 115 other like-minded 'experts') have penned an open letter to The United Nations urging the outright ban of the development and use of killer robots.
As a reminder, Musk previously called on the government to proactively regulate artificial intelligence before things advance too far.
“Until people see robots going down the street killing people, they don’t know how to react because it seems so ethereal,” he said.
“AI is a rare case where I think we need to be proactive in regulation instead of reactive. Because I think by the time we are reactive in AI regulation, it’s too late.”
“Normally the way regulations are set up is a while bunch of bad things happen, there’s a public outcry, and after many years a regulatory agency is set up to regulate that industry,” he continued.
“It takes forever. That, in the past, has been bad but not something which represented a fundamental risk to the existence of civilization. AI is a fundamental risk to the existence of human civilization.”
Musk has been concerned about AI for years, and while Facenook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is unphased, it appears now, as The Guardian reports, the Tesla CEO has found 115 like-minded individuals to appeal to The UN.
The UN recently voted to begin formal discussions on such weapons which include drones, tanks and automated machine guns. Ahead of this, the group of founders of AI and robotics companies have sent an open letter to the UN calling for it to prevent the arms race that is currently under way for killer robots.
In their letter, the founders warn the review conference of the convention on conventional weapons that this arms race threatens to usher in the “third revolution in warfare” after gunpowder and nuclear arms.
The founders wrote:
“Once developed, lethal autonomous weapons will permit armed conflict to be fought at a scale greater than ever, and at timescales faster than humans can comprehend. These can be weapons of terror, weapons that despots and terrorists use against innocent populations, and weapons hacked to behave in undesirable ways.
“We do not have long to act. Once this Pandora’s box is opened, it will be hard to close.”
The founders call for “morally wrong” lethal autonomous weapons systems to be added to the list of weapons banned under the UN’s convention on certain conventional weapons (CCW) brought into force in 1983, which includes chemical and intentionally blinding laser weapons.
Ryan Gariepy, the founder of Clearpath Robotics said:
“Unlike other potential manifestations of AI which still remain in the realm of science fiction, autonomous weapons systems are on the cusp of development right now and have a very real potential to cause significant harm to innocent people along with global instability.”
Sounds even scarier than Musk's end of civilization threats!