On 28th July, 2015, an open letter 1 was unveiled at the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI), citing the dangers of developing weapons with Artificial Intelligence. The open letter has over 20,000 signed supported, that include over 3000 AI researchers. This letter was signed by Tesla motors and Space X founder- Elon Musk, along with Stephen Hawking and Apple’s co-founder – Steve Wozniak. The letter makes a noteworthy point, stating that AI driven weapons could lead to the 3rd revolution in the arms race, after the invention of gunpowder and nuclear weapons.
AI driven weapons must not be confused with drones or remotely operated cruise missiles, as the later requires human intervention to select a potential target. The technology that is being developed could be like an armed quadcopter that identifies potential hostile targets and eliminates them.
While there are a few who would argue that it’s better to have robots fighting wars instead of human soldiers, the AI community is worried about the potential arms outbreak that could be caused due to this revolutionary new way of war. We live in a world where weapons could be brought off the internet, and if such kind of technology is met with the wrong hands, the consequences could be disastrous. The fact that almost every terrorist video shows fanatics with AK-47s and RPGs, stresses on the fact that it wouldn’t be too difficult to gain access to such technology. Imagine a random quad-copter that is equipped with a gun, starts accurately shooting at innocent civilians. No one would know who the culprit was, and good luck bringing down something like that by pelting stones.
If you’re against a military AI arms race, please sign this open letter:http://t.co/yyF9rcm9jz
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 28, 2015
Another valid argument that has been made is that, just like how chemists and biologist wouldn’t want the development of bio-chemical weapons, the same could be said for AI researchers.
Sadly the US has already started work on developing AI with China trailing behind them, and it’s just a matter of time that Mother Russia joins the race. What is the need for such weapons? Wouldn’t a UAV suffice? The answer to this is simply a quicker response time a machine could have over a human. Let’s hope this is only limited to fighting terror outfits, and just like nuclear weapons, it’s use is highly restricted.