China, Russa, and the Unites States, to name but a few, have proven that their various defense agencies will leverage local AI advances to improve their militaries. And if they succeed, the risk is global. The good news is, some big players in technology are publicly protesting and warning us of the potential disaster.
Elon Musk and his 115 friends
Even when he protests, the billionaire Elon Musk does it in excess. And here that’s not a bad thing. In August 2017, he invited 115 renowned people—founders of robotics and AI companies—to sign an open letter. Addressed to the UN, it outlined an immediate ban on autonomous weapons. “These can be weapons of terror, weapons that despots and terrorists use against innocent populations, and weapons hacked to behave in undesirable ways,” it reads. “We do not have long to act. Once this Pandora’s box is opened, it will be hard to close.”
Despite being commissioned and disseminated, there’s presently no restriction on autonomous weapons. Nuclear weapons, conversely, are minutely regulated. As Venture Beat reports, the lack of an international treaty regulating these incredibly lethal weapons poses problems, particularly from a production standpoint, where there’s no limit whatsoever.
The horror film
Aired by CNN, the “Slaughterbots” video horrified the internet by demonstrating the destructive potential of killer drones. Made in a collaboration between the University of California, Berkeley professor and the Future of Life Institute, this seven-minute fictional video depicts massacres committed by quadricopters using facial recognition technology and firearms. As dystopian as it gets.
Do It Yourself
Today, any computer genius can manufacture an autonomous weapon. The raw materials, in fact, are getting cheaper and cheaper. A drone only costs a couple hundred dollars. And the genius needed to program a killer AI is easily available online on legal sites such as ArXiv and GitHub. For, as Rolling Stone reports, a drone, guided by an algorithm and carrying an explosive charge can do a lot of damage.