Slaughterbots – AI-powered, killer robots could be impossible to turn off

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Many of the world’s leading AI researchers and humanitarian organizations are concerned about the potentially catastrophic consequences of allowing lethal autonomous weapons to be developed. Encourage your country’s leaders to support an international treaty limiting lethal autonomous weapons:

Share the video and spread the word. Tell the world why you think we should #bankillerrobots.

Add your name to the list of over 20,000 others who oppose autonomous weapons.

Reach out to your elected representative in the US, UK or wherever you live.

Visit the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots to take further action or donate to the cause.

killer robot

This open letter was announced July 28 at the opening of the IJCAI 2015 conference on July 28.
Journalists who wish to see the press release may contact Toby Walsh.
Hosting, signature verification and list management are supported by FLI; for administrative questions about this letter, please contact Max Tegmark.


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Autonomous weapons select and engage targets without human intervention. They might include, for example, armed quadcopters that can search for and eliminate people meeting certain pre-defined criteria, but do not include cruise missiles or remotely piloted drones for which humans make all targeting decisions. Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology has reached a point where the deployment of such systems is — practically if not legally — feasible within years, not decades, and the stakes are high: autonomous weapons have been described as the third revolution in warfare, after gunpowder and nuclear arms.

Many arguments have been made for and against autonomous weapons, for example that replacing human soldiers by machines is good by reducing casualties for the owner but bad by thereby lowering the threshold for going to battle. The key question for humanity today is whether to start a global AI arms race or to prevent it from starting. If any major military power pushes ahead with AI weapon development, a global arms race is virtually inevitable, and the endpoint of this technological trajectory is obvious: autonomous weapons will become the Kalashnikovs of tomorrow. Unlike nuclear weapons, they require no costly or hard-to-obtain raw materials, so they will become ubiquitous and cheap for all significant military powers to mass-produce. It will only be a matter of time until they appear on the black market and in the hands of terrorists, dictators wishing to better control their populace, warlords wishing to perpetrate ethnic cleansing, etc. Autonomous weapons are ideal for tasks such as assassinations, destabilizing nations, subduing populations and selectively killing a particular ethnic group. We therefore believe that a military AI arms race would not be beneficial for humanity. There are many ways in which AI can make battlefields safer for humans, especially civilians, without creating new tools for killing people.

Just as most chemists and biologists have no interest in building chemical or biological weapons, most AI researchers have no interest in building AI weapons — and do not want others to tarnish their field by doing so, potentially creating a major public backlash against AI that curtails its future societal benefits. Indeed, chemists and biologists have broadly supported international agreements that have successfully prohibited chemical and biological weapons, just as most physicists supported the treaties banning space-based nuclear weapons and blinding laser weapons.

In summary, we believe that AI has great potential to benefit humanity in many ways, and that the goal of the field should be to do so. Starting a military AI arms race is a bad idea, and should be prevented by a ban on offensive autonomous weapons beyond meaningful human control.

To date, the open letter has been signed by 3462 AI/Robotics researchers and 18909 others. The list of signatories includes:

AI/Robotics Researchers:

Stuart Russell Berkeley, Professor of Computer Science, director of the Center for Intelligent Systems, and co-author of the standard textbook “Artificial Intelligence: a Modern Approach”
Nils J. Nilsson, Department of Computer Science, Stanford University, Kumagai Professor of Engineering, Emeritus, past president of AAAI
Barbara J. Grosz Harvard University, Higgins Professor of Natural Sciences, former president AAAI, former chair of IJCAI Board of Trustees
Tom Mitchell CMU, past president of AAAI, Fredkin University Professor and Head of the Machine Learning Department
Eric Horvitz, Microsoft Research, Managing director, Microsoft Research, past president of AAAI, co-chair of AAAI Presidential Panel on Long-term AI Futures, member of ACM, IEEE CIS
Martha E. Pollack University of Michigan, Provost, Professor of Computer Science & Professor of Information, past president of AAAI, Fellow of AAAS, ACM & AAAI
Henry Kautz, University of Rochester, Professor of Computer Science, past president of AAAI, member of ACM
Demis Hassabis, Google DeepMind, CEO
Yann LeCun, New York University & Facebook AI Research, Professor of Computer Science & Director of AI Research
Oren Etzioni, Allen Institute for AI, CEO, member of AAAI, ACM
Peter Norvig, Google, Research Director, member of AAAI, ACM
Geoffrey Hinton University of Toronto and Google, Emeritus Professor, AAAI Fellow
Yoshua Bengio, Université de Montréal, Professor
Erik Sandewall, Linköping University, Sweden, Professor of Computer Science, member of AAAI, ACM, Swedish Artificial Intelligence Society
Francesca Rossi Padova & Harvard, Professor of Computer Science, IJCAI President and Co-chair of AAAI committee on impact of AI and Ethical Issues, member of ACM
Bart Selman Cornell, Professor of Computer Science, co-chair of the AAAI presidential panel on long-term AI futures, member of ACM
Joseph Y. Halpern, Cornell, Professor, member of AAAI, ACM, IEEE
Richard S. Sutton Univ. of Alberta, Professor of Computer Science and author of the textbook “Reinforcement Learning: An Introduction”
Toby Walsh Univ. of New South Wales & NICTA, Professor of AI and President of the AI Access Foundation
David C. Parkes David Parkes, Harvard University, Area Dean for Computer Science, Chair of ACM SIGecom, AAAI Fellow and member of AAAI presidential panel on long-term AI futures, member of ACM
Berthold K.P. Horn, MIT EECS & CSAIL, Professor EECS, member of AAAI, IEEE CS
Gerhard Brewka, Leipzig University, Professor for Intelligent Systems, past president of ECCAI, member of AAAI
John S Shawe-Taylor, University College London, Professor of Computational Statistics and Machine Learning, member of IEEE CS
Hector Levesque, University of Toronto, Professor Emeritus, Past President of IJCAI, member of AAAI
Ivan Bratko, University of Ljubljana, Professor of Computer Science, ECCAI Fellow, member of SLAIS
Pierre Wolper, University of Liège, Professor of Computer Science, member of AAAI, ACM, IEEE CS
Bonnie Webber, University of Edinburgh, Professor in Informatics, member of AAAI, Association for Computational Linguistics
Ernest Davis, New York University, Professor of Computer Science, member of AAAI, ACM
Mary-Anne Williams, University of Technology Sydney, Founder and Director, Innovation and Enterprise Lab (The Magic Lab); ACM Committee Eugene L. Lawler Award for Humanitarian Contributions within Computer Science and Informatics; Fellow, Australian Computer Society, member of AAAI, IEEE CIS, IEEE CS, IEEE RAS
Frank van Harmelen, VU University Amsterdam, Professor of Knowledge Representation, ECCAI Fellow, member of the Academia Europeana
Csaba Szepesvari, University of Alberta, Professor of Computer Science, member of AAAI, ACM
Raja Chatila, CNRS, University Pierre and Marie Curie, Paris., Resercher in Robotics and AI, member of AAAI, ACM, IEEE CS, IEEE RAS, President IEEE Robotics and Automation Society (Disclaimer: my views represent my own)
Noel Sharkey, University of Sheffield and ICRAC, Emeritus Professor, member of British Computer Society, Institution of Engineering and Technology UK
Ramon Lopez de Mantaras Artificial Intelligence Research Institute, Spanish National Research Council, Director, ECCAI Fellow, former President of the Board of Trustees of IJCAI, recipient of the AAAI Robert S. Engelmore Memorial Lecture Award
Carla Brodley, Northeastern University, Dean and Professor of the College of Computer and Information Science, member of AAAI, ACM, IEEE CS
Nowe Ann, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Professor of Computer Science (AI), ECCAI board member, BNVKI chairman, member of IEEE CIS, IEEE CS, IEEE RAS
Stefanuk, Vadim, (Moscow) IITP RAS, RUPF, Leading Researcher, Professor of AI in RUPF, ECCAI Fellow, Vice-Chairman of RAAI
Bruno Siciliano, University of Naples Federico II, Professor of Robotics, Fellow of IEEE, ASME, IFAC, Past-President IEEE Robotics and Automation Society
Bernhard Schölkopf, Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems, Director, member of ACM, IEEE CIS, IMLS board & NIPS board
Mustafa Suleyman, Google DeepMind, Co-Founder & Head of Applied AI
Juergen Schmidhuber, The Swiss AI Lab IDSIA, USI & SUPSI, Professor of Artificial Intelligence
Dileep George, Vicarious, Co-founder
D. Scott Phoenix, Vicarious, Co-founder
Ronald J. Brachman, Yahoo, Chief Scientist and Head of Yahoo Labs, member of AAAI, ACM, Former president of AAAI, former Secretary-Treasurer of IJCAI, Inc., Fellow of AAAI, ACM, and IEEE.
Jay Tuck, Airtime Dubai, Journalist, Television Producer, Author
Mike Hinchey, International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP) on behalf of the IFIP General Assembly, President, member of ACM, IEEE CIS, IEEE CS, IFIP

Other Endorsers:

Stephen Hawking Director of research at the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at Cambridge, 2012 Fundamental Physics Prize laureate for his work on quantum gravity
Elon Musk SpaceX, Tesla, Solar City
Steve Wozniak, Apple Inc., Co-founder, member of IEEE CS
Jaan Tallinn co-founder of Skype, CSER and FLI
Frank Wilczek MIT, Professor of Physics, Nobel Laureate for his work on the strong nuclear force
Max Tegmark MIT, Professor of Physics, co-founder of FLI
Daniel C. Dennett, Tufts University, Professor, Co-Director, Center for Cognitive Studies, member of AAAI
Noam Chomsky MIT, Institute Professor emeritus, inductee in IEEE Intelligent Systems Hall of Fame, Franklin medalist in Computer and Cognitive Science
Barbara Simons IBM Research (retired), Past President ACM, ACM Fellow, AAAS Fellow
Stephen Goose Director of Human Rights Watch’s Arms Division
Anthony Aguirre, UCSC, Professor of Physics, co-founder of FLI
Lisa Randall, Harvard, Professor of Physics
Martin Rees Co-founder of CSER and Astrophysicist
Susan Holden Martin, Lifeboat Foundation, Advisory Board, Robotics/AI
Peter H. Diamandis, XPRIZE Foundation, Chairman & CEO
Hon. Jean Jacques Blais, Founding Chair, Pearson Peacekeeping Center, Former Minister of Defence for Canada (1982-83)
Jennifer M Gidley, President, World Futures Studies Federation, Futures Researcher and Psychologist

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