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Ban Artificial Intelligence Weapons? It Actually Could Help Tech Giants

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Ban Artificial Intelligence Weapons? It Actually Could Help Tech Giants
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The Future of Life Institute has published a new open letter calling for a global ban on autonomous weapons. The letter has been signed by hundreds of artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics researchers, as well as several high-profile names from the business and scientific community.

The letter argues that a global AI weapons race would not benefit the human race in any way.

What's An Autonomous Weapon?

An autonomous weapon selects and attacks a target without human manipulation. While the modern military already uses drones to target and attack enemies, those drones are piloted and controlled by humans. An autonomous drone, on the other hand, would identify and attack a target on its own based on a set of selection criteria.

According to the AI community, “the deployment of such systems is… feasible within years, not decades.”

What’s The Problem?

Proponents of AI weapons systems argue that the systems would save lives by keeping human soldiers out of the line of fire.

However, AI experts believe that the development of autonomous weapons systems pose a larger threat to the world than the development of nuclear weapons ever has.

“Unlike nuclear weapons, [AI weapons] 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,” the letter reads.

Among the signatures appearing on the letter are those of physicist Stephen Hawking, Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ: TSLA) CEO Elon Musk, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) Co-founder Steve Wozniak and MIT Professor of Physics and Nobel Laureate Frank Wilczek.

What’s At Stake?

According to the letter, while a ban on AI weapons may seem like a blow to the AI community, it’s actually quite the opposite.

The vast majority of AI research has nothing to do with weaponry, but a potential public backlash in response to AI weapon attacks could make other areas of AI development more difficult in the future.

In that respect, a potential ban on AI weapons could be a positive for top AI technology companies, such as International Business Machines Corp (NYSE: IBM), which has more than 500 AI-related patents.

Other global leaders in AI development include Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT), Google Inc (NASDAQ: GOOG) (NASDAQ: GOOGL) and SAP SE (NYSE: SAP).

Image credit: Public Domain

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