AI Scientists Sound the Alarm That This South Korean University May Start a Killer-Robot Apocalypse
If you thought Elon Musk was just a paranoid, robot-hating crackpot with an inexplicable talent for rocketry, think again.
According to a recent statement by AI scientists from around the globe, the world is in the midst of a not-so-quiet arms race to create autonomous robot soldiers, and it needs to stop before a "Pandora's Box" is opened.
Last month, a group of over 50 AI scientists, including those from UC Berkeley and the Max Planck Institute, signed an open letter to the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), announcing a boycott against the university due to its recent partnership with South Korea's largest defense company, Hanwha System, to open a Research Center for the Convergence of National Defense and Artificial Intelligence, which will aim to "develop artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to be applied to military weapons, joining the global competition to develop autonomous arms."
The fear is that KAIST will develop killer robots that can operate without human oversight or control, marking a "third revolution" in the history of warfare:
"They will permit war to be fought faster and at a scale greater than ever before. They have the potential to be weapons of terror. Despots and terrorists could use them against innocent populations, removing any ethical restraints."
The scientists who have signed the boycott have pledged not to collaborate with any part of KAIST until they are assured that the Institute "will not develop autonomous weapons lacking meaningful human control."
As it stands, 22 countries have expressed willingness to create a ban on autonomous weapons, though the idea of "meaningful human control" makes it difficult to define what constitutes an autonomous weapon. The UN is currently set to reconvene a group of experts this April to discuss a potential ban.
We like to imagine that Musk will be watching the UN proceedings from his office, ready to mark another chalk tally on a giant scoreboard titled "HUMANS VS. ROBOT APOCALYPSE."