World-wide alert against robot-killers! A group of international researchers in the field of Artificial Intelligence has announced that it will boycott a South Korean university, the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) and its industrial partner, Hanwha Systems, for a project that aims to develop autonomous weapons that could become "instruments of terror". Robot-killer, in fact.
In an open letter, 50 researchers from 30 different countries threaten not to participate in any academic activity of what is one of the most prestigious state universities in South Korea and express their "deep concern" about the creation of the project "Centre of Convergence of National Defence and Artificial Intelligence", launched by the university with the company among the largest arms manufacturers in the country.
The objective is to develop artificial intelligence technologies for autonomous military equipment: but the risk, scientists write, is "to open Pandora's box" and open the "third revolution" in military technology. The weapons that would be developed are weapons that "would allow us to fight at an unprecedented speed and on an unprecedented scale" and could be used "by despots and terrorists against civilians, eliminating all ethical barriers". In the open letter, it is recalled that artificial intelligence should "improve human life, instead of destroying it".
Among the signatures, some of the brightest minds in the field of Artificial Intelligence: the British Geoffrey Hinton, the Canadian Yoshua Bengio or the German Jurgen Schmidhuber, who will boycott the university until it gives assurance "that it will not develop autonomous weapons without significant human controls".
The university replied that the project "does not include research on uncontrollable autonomous weapons" involving "violations of ethics or human dignity". For its part, the company - which, among other things, produces cluster bombs banned in 120 countries - has declared that the objective "is not to develop killer weapons", but "to remotely control technologies to reduce losses".