A group of 116 founders of robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) companies have called on the UN to ban autonomous weapons, the media reported.
"Lethal autonomous weapons threaten to become the third revolution in warfare. Once developed, they will permit armed conflict to be fought at a scale greater than ever, and at timescales faster than humans can comprehend," the group warned in an open letter released Monday.
Spearheaded by Toby Walsh, the letter was signed by many AI world leaders at the University of South Wales, told the Xinhua news agency that there is an 'arms race' going around. In fact, according to the Human Rights Watch, US, China, Israel, South Korea, Russia, and Britain are already building an arsenal of autonomous weapons.
Toby Walsh, an Australian professor who organised the conference said, "These can be weapons of terror, weapons that despots and terrorists use against innocent populations, and weapons hacked to behave in undesirable ways."
The signatories are from companies spread across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia and include Elon Musk, CEO and founder of Tesla and SpaceX; and Mustafa Suleyman, an AI specialist at Google, reports CNN.
"Unlike other potential manifestations of AI, which still remain in the realm of science fiction, autonomous weapons systems are on the cusp of development right now and have a very real potential to cause significant harm to innocent people along with global instability," said Ryan Gariepy, the founder of Clearpath Robotics and the first person to sign the letter.
The open letter was released at an AI conference in Melbourne earlier in the day ahead of a UN meeting of government experts on autonomous weapons, CNN reported. One of the biggest worries shared by these technology leaders is that a rogue state, or tyrannical regime, would be able to use this these weapons in order to suppress their populace into docility, and Walsh outlined the likely path he feels will be taken in such an eventuality.
It was signed by renowned physicist Stephen Hawking and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.
(With inputs from IANS)