Why are businesses calling to ban ‘killer robots’?

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Will we see a ‘genesis’ of killer robots?

A professional working in the field of robotics has supported calls for the UN to ban the development of ‘killer robots’.

Philip Graves, of GWS Robotics in Bristol, fears advances in electronic technology and artificial intelligence could lead to extrajudicial killings.

His comments come in the wake of over 100 scientists, including billionaire Elon Musk, urging the UN to block the use of lethal autonomous weapons.

Graves, who has been programming since the 1980s, said: “Artificial intelligence can be used for good or ill. It is vital the international community moves to regulate and safeguard against its use for the purposes of the destruction of human life.”

Scientists have sent an open letter to the UN warning that the creation of AI-controlled robots with the ability to use weapons would spark ‘a third revolution in warfare’.

It urges the UN to completely block the use of weapons such as drones, tanks and automatic machine guns that are empowered by artificial intelligence to select and fire at targets by themselves.

Graves, who is based at the firm and its associated company, GWS Media, in Queen Charlotte Street, said: “I believe there is a real risk that technologies such as autonomous armed drones, automatically firing missiles, and robotic soldiers could increasingly effectively be deployed in warfare.

“There is also the potential to use them for the purposes of extra-judicial killings as advances in electronic technology and artificial intelligence continue to progress. It is essential that the developers and operators of lethal devices and technologies remain fully accountable for both their abilities and their actions.”

The UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) is a United Nations body whose statutory aim is to outlaw or restrict the use of excessively or indiscriminately injurious weapons.

CCW recently resolved to establish a Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on Autonomous Weapon Systems, which was commended by the AI specialists in their open letter.

The letter calls for international cooperation to prevent an international arms race centred on developments in lethal autonomous weapons.

It says such weapons threaten to ‘permit armed conflict to be fought at a scale greater than ever, and at timescales faster than humans can comprehend’.

The authors also highlight the risk of possible misuse from terrorists, tyrannical rule or by having their software hacked.

Graves said: “The supposed autonomy of artificially intelligent devices must never be permissible in law as an excuse for their destructive actions.

“Humans must not be allowed to hide their responsibility for weapons of any character behind a pretence that those weapons have minds of their own.”

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