Elon Musk Calls For Outright Ban On Killer Robots

POSTED BY   Jonathan Wood
25th August 2017

Elon Musk renews his warnings about the potential threat of artificial intelligence, with a focus, this time, on the use of autonomous weapons in warfare. Jon Wood, however, is skeptical.

Elon Musk Calls for Outright Ban on Killer Robots | TDMB Tech

I am not sure after reading about this subject in detail if Elon Musk is right, I mean we all talk about killer robots but actually when you look at where we are now, in my opinion, it’s an irrelevant issue. However, technology is continuing to surpass even our greatest expectations so I could be wrong.

Robot Wars?

Some of the world’s leading robotics and artificial intelligence pioneers are calling on the United Nations to ban the development and use of killer robots. Ban them? do they even exist? I know offensive systems exist and in theory, they can work autonomously, but they’re not robots.

If you, like me, follow the news about AI, you will know that Mark Zuckerburg and Tesla’s Elon Musk recently shared their thoughts on this issue. Both had interesting points to make, but my view is this: surely whatever we, as humans, create will always have a ‘kill switch’ in place. Ultimately humanity will be the creators… so that must mean we can also destroy!

There are 116 specialists from across 26 countries who are calling for the ban on autonomous weapons… that’s quite a lot!

The UN recently voted to begin formal discussions on such weapons, which include drones, tanks, and automated machine guns. When you think of modern technology becoming autonomous, in terms of tanks and drones, then Elon Musk may indeed have a point. But are we really nearing that day…?

Musk believes that one day World War III could occur because these machines could gain the ability to make their own decisions, potentially leading us into nuclear war.

Apparently, once developed, lethal autonomous weapons will permit armed conflict to be fought on a greater scale than ever, and at timescales faster than humans can comprehend. Does this mean that ‘killer robots’ can actually engage in autonomous warfare? If so, then everything needs to be reviewed to ensure the human race remains dominant, doesn’t it? As the founders of the group calling for a ban wrote in their open letter to the UN:

“Once this Pandora’s box is opened, it will be hard to close.”

Experts have previously warned that AI technology has reached a point where the deployment of this type of technology could be used on the battlefield. If it’s just for military use and only used in controlled situations then I would have thought that robots are the way forward… I mean, what is the point of risking a human life when we can just send in a robot?

Much Ado About Nothing?

But is this something we should be thinking about now? I am not sure. These developments in autonomous weapons have been a long time coming and it seems to me that we are making a lot of fuss over something where there is no factual evidence to support either Zuckerberg or Musk’s views.

The founders call for “morally wrong” lethal autonomous weapons systems to be added to the list of weapons banned under the UN’s convention. I don’t agree or disagree with any of the views in this article but I would like to learn more about the issue, because I have no doubt that we will continue to push the boundaries.

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Jonathan Wood

Jonathan Wood is Business Development Manager at TDMB Tech. A passionate tech geek, he loves talking to anyone and everyone working in the world of technology. He’s also a massive advocate for getting tech companies the exposure they need to build their presence within the booming technology industry. Aside from his love of tech, Jon is also a long time Spice Girls fan (he was a member of their fan club throughout the nineties). If you would like to get in touch with him, either about Technology or The Spice Girls, you can drop him a line on Twitter, LinkedIn, or email him directly: [email protected]

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