Prevent Killer Robots arms race

May 8, 2019

A killer robots arms race is brewing with potentially catastrophic results if states do not act quickly to stop it. PAX makes this warning in its new report “The State of AI: Artificial Intelligence, the Military and Increasingly Autonomous Weapons.” The report outlines the status of AI in military projects of seven countries: the United States, China, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, Israel and South Korea.

For example, the US is investing $US 2 billion to ‘develop (the) next wave of AI technologies.’ The US is already developing programs like ATLAS, which “will use artificial intelligence and machine learning to give ground-combat vehicles autonomous target capabilities” that will allow weapons to “acquire, identify, and engage targets at least 3x faster than the current manual process”.

The report also shows that in all countries profiled, cooperation with the private sector is vital to the militaries’ AI projects and whereas some companies, such as the French defence company Thales, have taken a clear position against autonomous weapons, other show less restraint when it comes to working on such weapons.

Massive funding

With massive funding from key nations in AI and defence, and as international rules have not yet been put in place, lethal autonomous weapons seems inevitable if states and private sectors do not take swift action to prevent the development of these weapons.

PAX calls for states to agree to international rules banning lethal autonomous weapons and for the global private sector to agree not to work on the development of these weapons. The report urges states to work together, with the international scientific community and with the private sector to protect humanity from an AI arms race that will be without winners. States should not be asking ‘How can we win the AI arms race?’ but rather ‘How can we prevent an AI arms race?’

International rules

Daan Kayser, project leader autonomous weapons at PAX, said, “We are looking at a near-future where AI-enabled weapons take over human roles, selecting and attacking targets on their own. Without clear international rules, we may enter an era where algorithms, not people, decide over life and death.”

Download the full report The State of AI: Artificial Intelligence, the Military and Increasingly Autonomous Weapons.

See also Killer Robots: What are they and what are the concerns?

Read also Netherlands against measures to prevent killer robots

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