New York: In an open letter to the United Nations, more than 1,000 robotics experts and artificial intelligence researchers have asked for a ban on the development and use of autonomous weapons, better known as, ''killer robots''.
The open letter has been signed by eminent personalities, including physicist Stephen Hawking, technologist Elon Musk, philosopher Noam Chomsky, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, and hundreds of AI and robotics researcher from top-flight universities and laboratories worldwide.
The letter has been put together by the Future of Life Institute, a group that works to mitigate "existential risks facing humanity", warns of the danger of starting a "military AI arms race".
The letter states that the development of autonomous weapons, or weapons that can target and fire without a human at the controls, could bring about a "third revolution in warfare," much like the creation of guns and nuclear bombs before it.
Even if autonomous weapons were created for use in "legal" warfare, the letter warns that autonomous weapons could become "the Kalashnikovs of tomorrow" - hijacked by terrorists and used against civilians or in rogue assassinations.
Unlike nuclear weapons, they require no costly or hard-to-obtain raw materials, so they will become ubiquitous and cheap for all significant military powers to mass-produce,” the letter explained. “It will only be a matter of time until they appear on the black market and in the hands of terrorists, dictators wishing to better control their populace, warlords wishing to perpetrate ethnic cleansing, etc.
“We believe that AI has great potential to benefit humanity in many ways, and that the goal of the field should be to do so. Starting a military AI arms race is a bad idea, and should be prevented by a ban on offensive autonomous weapons beyond meaningful human control."
(With Agency inputs)