The signatories warned of a future where the wielders of such technology would have an immoral and unfair upper hand
Technology leaders from Tesla, Microsoft, Google have pledged to not develop artificial intelligence for use in lethal weapons.
According to a report in The Verge, the pledge dubs it immoral and illogical for an autonomous weapons system to ‘select and engage’ anything it perceives to be a threat.
Signatories of the pledge include Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, Skype founder Jaan Tallinn and three co-founders of Google’s AI wing DeepMind – Mustafa Suleyman, Demis Hassabis and Shane Legg. Respected AI researchers such as Jurgen Schmidhuber and Stuart Russell too have signed the pledge. The pledge was published at the 2018 International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Stockholm on Wednesday.
They said that the decision to take a human life is not a machine’s to take. They also warned that spreading such technology would destabilise world nations and tip the scales in favour of those wielding them.
Professor of physics at MIT Max Tegmark told The Verge that the pledge can impose restrictions on the development of AI for military use, something politicians should have done instead. He called for dealing with possible autonomous weapons the same way biological and chemical weapons are dealt with.
But campaigners point out that enforcing this pledge would be next to impossible as the resources to develop such technology is already quite widespread. Additionally, major players in AI development such as the US and China have nothing to gain from this.Google was recently shaken by employee protests after it was found that the company was working with the Pentagon to develop AI technology for drone applications; Google has since promised to not develop lethal AI systems. The Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology (KAIST) in South Korea was facing a boycott after its work on ‘killer robots’ came to light; the university’s president subsequently made the same promise to protesters.