Unless we want Skynet to become a reality, killer robots should be stopped by 2018 and not be allowed to be involved in matters of war. The debate has sparked in Davos, Switzerland, where international scientists, politicians, and business men chimed in on the matter.
It seems that we are nearing a future where robotics will take over a few fields. It has been estimated that their intelligence and abilities might leave around 5 million people without jobs, even though the field will open 2 million more jobs in turn. That is still a loss, but it’s not the domesticated robots that they are worried about. It’s not the drones commanded by humans.
It’s about the development of autonomous weapons that several countries have in mind. The finger was mostly pointed at the United States, China, and Russia, who have an interest in creating such machines. Essentially, they imply tracking down a target and killing them without restriction, subjectivity, and care for any collateral damage. It takes the empathy, proper assessment, and ability to act on morals out of matters of both war and peace.
According to Stuart Russell, a professor of computer science from the University of California Berkeley, the question is now posed if these machines can follow the rules of war. There are over 1,000 renown scientists, including Stephen Hawking who have addressed the issue. Autonomous weapons and robots who control them are feasible not only within the next couple of decades, but in a matter of years.
That could be detrimental to humanity as a whole. Members at the gathering have called for a ban on artificial intelligence and autonomous weapons that might potentially be catastrophic in the hands of extremists. Without judgment, it could pave the way for chaos and one can never know how a robot would react in such a situation. Will it know the difference between soldier and civilian? Will it be able to distinguish soldier from rebel? Will it know not to kill the pilot who has already ejected from the crashing plane?
These are matters that should be carefully considered. The U.S. has voiced out their abandonment of biological weapons because they could be deployed by virtually anyone. Russell states that the same should happen with robots.
His claims were backed by Alan Winfield, a professor of electronic engineering from the University of West of England. He stated that removing humans from a battlefield would leave decision-making to robots. It would dehumanize us as it would deprive soldiers of every moral responsibility. Whether in peace or war, removing ethics out of the equation will take humanity to an unfortunate level.
Some believe that it’s already too late. According to Angela Kane, from the U.N.’s High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, world leaders have not acted quickly enough. Many countries are already involved in AI-powered autonomous weapons without truly understanding the implications. Wars might become an arms race between robots, and humans will be caught in the crossfire.
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