Wednesday 7 December 2016

Hawking warns of 'killer robots' arms race

Rachael Alexander in Los Angeles

Published 29/07/2015 | 02:30

Stephen Hawking
Stephen Hawking

NOBEL laureate Stephen Hawking is amongst the more than 1,000 tech experts, scientists and researchers who have written a letter warning about the potential risks of autonomous weapons.

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In the latest instalment in the outcry over 'killer robots', the letter warns that "a military AI [artificial intelligence] arms race is a bad idea".

According to the BBC other signatories are the tech entrepreneurs Elon Musk and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.

The letter will be presented at an international AI conference.

'Killer robots' are currently the subject of much debate and have recently been discussed by committees at the United Nations, which is considering the potential for a ban on certain types of autonomous weapons.

Now, the experts have called for a specific ban on the use of artificial intelligence to manage weapons that would be "beyond meaningful human control".

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"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," they add.

MIT professor Noam Chomsky, Google AI chief Demis Hassabis and consciousness expert Daniel Dennett are among others to have endorsed the letter.

The text, which has been published online by the Future of Life Institute (FLI), will be presented to delegates of the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Buenos Aires.

Prof Hawking, a signatory to the letter, is currently taking part in an Ask Me Anything (AMA) session on Reddit, in which he is collecting questions about "making the future of technology more human".

He will respond to selected questions throughout the week, but has not yet posted his first reply.

In December, in an interview with the BBC, the professor raised his concern that AI could spell the end of mankind.

"Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn't compete [with artificial intelligence], and would be superseded," he said.

Irish Independent

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