Saturday, August 8, 2015

Stephen Hawking Et Al Call for an International Ban on Killer Robots

The sentry robot in action in Cheonan,
92 kms south of Seoul. Getty Images 
Along the demilitarized zone separating North and South Korea, the South Korean military deployed SGR-A1 Sentry Guard Robots to replace human sentries. The SGR-A1 sentry needs a human operator to fire its weapon. But in time, weaponized autonomous ‘killer robots’ -- self-directed, no human operator -- will replace soldiers along the DMZ as well as soldiers, marines, and sailors in military units worldwide.

Experts say, “AI [artificial intelligence] technology has reached a point where the deployment of such systems is … feasible within years, not decades.… AI has great potential to benefit humanity … and that the goal of the field should be to do so.”

‘Killer robots’ also have the potential to kick-start an arms race like the nuclear arms race of the Cold War. As time goes on, autonomous robots empowered with artificial intelligence will operate with progressively greater sophistication and killing capability. They will change the face of warfare, making it easier for nations to wage war because human soldiers will not be fighting on battlefields.

Moreover, unlike nuclear weapons, any nation can make ‘killer robots.’ These robots, made with raw materials that are affordable and easy to obtain, makes them easier to mass-produce.

Those concerns motivated robotic and AI experts, researches, and others, including Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, and Noam Chomsky to sign an open letter calling for a ban on autonomous weapons.

Banning the technology, however, would be a bad idea. AI, as the letter points out, has the potential to benefit humanity. The technology will make medical care more efficient, make the workplace safer with greater efficiency, expand peaceful exploration of space and oceans, develop a world at peace rather than a world dependent on war and more important, eliminate poverty.

The latter is important because automation has already replaced work in many industries. It will continue to a point where eventually automation enhanced by AI will make work nonexistent. The need to earn money will no longer be necessary. It will force society to find another way of distributing resources, permanently eliminating poverty, war, and all the world’s ills that are the result of a money-based economic system.

© Copyright 2015 Horatio Green