Over 2,500 scientists sign pledge not to create killer robots

Written by Nathan Jolly on 19th July, 2018
Over 2,500 scientists sign pledge not to create killer robots

Over 2,500 of the world’s leading scientists from a number of companies, including Google DeepMind, the Swedish AI Society, ClearPath Robotics, and the University College of London, have signed a pledge to address the “urgent opportunity and necessity for citizens, policymakers, and leaders to distinguish between acceptable and unacceptable uses of AI.”

Toby Walsh, a professor of AI at UNSW explains: “We cannot hand over the decision as to who lives and who dies to machines. They do not have the ethics to do so. I encourage you and your organisations to pledge to ensure that war does not become more terrible in this way.”

While the need for such a pledge is troubling, it is a rather forward-thinking approach to an issue that may present itself sooner than we suspect.

The pledge reads:

“Artificial intelligence (AI) is poised to play an increasing role in military systems. There is an urgent opportunity and necessity for citizens, policymakers, and leaders to distinguish between acceptable and unacceptable uses of AI.

“In this light, we the undersigned agree that the decision to take a human life should never be delegated to a machine. There is a moral component to this position, that we should not allow machines to make life-taking decisions for which others – or nobody – will be culpable.

“There is also a powerful pragmatic argument: lethal autonomous weapons, selecting and engaging targets without human intervention, would be dangerously destabilizing for every country and individual. Thousands of AI researchers agree that by removing the risk, attributability, and difficulty of taking human lives, lethal autonomous weapons could become powerful instruments of violence and oppression, especially when linked to surveillance and data systems.

“Moreover, lethal autonomous weapons have characteristics quite different from nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, and the unilateral actions of a single group could too easily spark an arms race that the international community lacks the technical tools and global governance systems to manage. Stigmatizing and preventing such an arms race should be a high priority for national and global security.

“We, the undersigned, call upon governments and government leaders to create a future with strong international norms, regulations and laws against lethal autonomous weapons. These currently being absent, we opt to hold ourselves to a high standard: we will neither participate in nor support the development, manufacture, trade, or use of lethal autonomous weapons. We ask that technology companies and organizations, as well as leaders, policymakers, and other individuals, join us in this pledge.”

The UN will meet in August to discuss lethal autonomous weapons; signatories are hopeful this will lead to an agreement in regards to implementing a ban of such machines.


The article was originally published on Brag Magazine

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