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AI experts urge UN to ban development, use of killer robots

Over a hundred experts in robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) are calling on the United Nation (UN) to ban the development and use of killer robots and add them to a list of ‘morally wrong’ weapons including blinding lasers and chemical weapons.

Google’s Mustafa Suleyman and Tesla’s Elon Musk are among the most prominent names on a list of 116 tech experts who have signed an open letter asking the UN to ban autonomous weapons in a bid to prevent an arms race.

Toby Walsh, a professor of artificial intelligence at the University of New South Wales in Australia said robotics and artificial intelligence can be used for good or bad purposes.

“Nearly every technology can be used for good and bad, and artificial intelligence is no different. It can help tackle many of the pressing problems facing society today: inequality and poverty, the challenges posed by climate change and the on-going global financial crisis.

“However, the same technology can also be used in autonomous weapons to industrialise war. We need to make decisions today choosing which of these futures we want,” Walsh said.

In December 2016 the UN voted to begin formal talks over the future of such weapons, including tanks, drones and automated machine guns.

19 out of 123 member states have so far called for an outright ban on lethal autonomous weapons.

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