No sci-fi joke: 'killer robots' strike fear into tech leaders

July 28, 2015
The "Campaign to Stop Killer Robots" was launched in London in 2013
The "Campaign to Stop Killer Robots" was launched in London in 2013

It sounds like a science-fiction nightmare. But "killer robots" have the likes of British scientist Stephen Hawking and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak fretting, and warning they could fuel ethnic cleansing and an arms race.

Autonomous weapons, which use artificial intelligence to select targets without human intervention, have been described as "the third revolution in warfare, after gunpowder and nuclear arms," around 1,000 technology chiefs wrote in an open letter.

Unlike drones, which require a human hand in their action, this kind of robot would have some autonomous decision-making ability and capacity to act.

"The key question for humanity today is whether to start a global AI (artificial intelligence) arms race or to prevent it from starting," they wrote.

"If any major military power pushes ahead with AI weapon development, a global arms race is virtually inevitable," said the letter released at the opening of the 2015 International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Buenos Aires.

The idea of an automated killing machine—made famous by Arnold Schwarzenegger's "Terminator"—is moving swiftly from science fiction to reality, according to the scientists.

"The deployment of such systems is—practically if not legally—feasible within years, not decades," the letter said.

Ethnic cleansing made easier?

The scientists painted the doomsday scenario of autonomous weapons falling into the hands of terrorists, dictators or warlords hoping to carry out ethnic cleansing.

"There are many ways in which AI can make battlefields safer for humans, especially civilians, without creating new tools for killing people," the letter said.

Arnold Schwarzenegger's "Terminator" movies popularised the idea that AI and killer robots could lead to the end of humans

In addition, the development of such weapons, while potentially reducing the extent of battlefield casualties, might also lower the threshold for going to battle, noted the scientists.

The group concluded with an appeal for a "ban on offensive autonomous weapons beyond meaningful human control."

Elon Musk, the billionaire co-founder of PayPal and head of SpaceX, a private space-travel technology venture, also urged the public to join the campaign.

"If you're against a military AI arms race, please sign this open letter," tweeted the tech boss.

Threat or not?

Sounding a touch more moderate, however, was Australia's Toby Walsh.

The artificial intelligence professor at NICTA and the University of New South Wales noted that all technologies have potential for being used for good and evil ends.

Ricardo Rodriguez, an AI researcher at the University of Buenos Aires, also said worries could be overstated.

British scientist Stephen Hawking has previously warned that AI is a threat to mankind

"Hawking believes that we are closing in on the Apocalypse with robots, and that in the end, AI will be competing with human intelligence," he said.

"But the fact is that we are far from making killer military robots."

Authorities are gradually waking up to the risk of robot wars.

Last May, for the first time, governments began talks on so-called "lethal autonomous weapons systems."

A sentry robot freezes a hypothetical intruder by pointing its machine gun during a 2006 test in Cheonan, South Korea
A sentry robot freezes a hypothetical intruder by pointing its machine gun during a 2006 test in Cheonan, South Korea

In 2012, Washington imposed a 10-year human control requirement on automated weapons, welcomed by campaigners even though they said it should go further.

There have been examples of weapons being stopped in their infancy.

After UN-backed talks, blinding laser weapons were banned in 1998 before they ever hit the battlefield.

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TheGhostofOtto1923
1.7 / 5 (6) Jul 28, 2015
Oh look a prop. And where would peacenik anti-everything movements be without props?

AI weapons can be programmed with the best judgment that the human race can offer. And they would make their decisions without being distracted by pain, confusion, fury, fear... or remorse.

Machines designed as soldiers can be better and more effective in every conceivable way than the common human soldier. For one they have the potential to virtually eliminate friendly fire casualties.

They are the preferred moral alternative.

And a military AI arms race is the best way to bring AI to maturity. Competition works best under mortal threat.
gkam
1.8 / 5 (5) Jul 28, 2015
"And a military AI arms race is the best way to bring AI to maturity. Competition works best under mortal threat."
---------------------------------------

I think somebody has never seen a real war.
PhysicsMatter
5 / 5 (1) Jul 28, 2015
Comparing Anti-autonomous military AI letter of 2015 with Russell-Einstein manifesto against nuclear weapons published in 1955. Very instructive read.

https://contraria...houghts/
BikeToAustralia
5 / 5 (1) Jul 28, 2015
Imagine someone changing the "good" programming running the AI weapon into "bad" programming. Imagine a OEM flaw in the "good" programming. The differences between AI weapon programming and human (or animal) soldier indoctrination/brainwashing and good soldier gone bad, these differences are illuminating. Humans can be reasoned with. Before we give a gun to an ATM we should develop ATMs that can not be corrupted.
TheGhostofOtto1923
2.6 / 5 (5) Jul 28, 2015
And a military AI arms race is the best way to bring AI to maturity. Competition works best under mortal threat."
---------------------------------------

I think somebody has never seen a real war.
I'm sure that as a top notch tech board solderer and button pusher you could build a robot like the one in the picture, replete with blinking lights and rotating antennae.

Think macnamara would have liked that?
gkam
1.8 / 5 (5) Jul 28, 2015
It's all supposition to you stay-at-home "patriots". You could do none of it.

Keep on getting your ideas of the military from comic books.

"Sergeant Rock" never existed.
antigoracle
2.3 / 5 (3) Jul 28, 2015
It's all supposition to you stay-at-home "patriots". You could do none of it.

Keep on getting your ideas of the military from comic books.

"Sergeant Rock" never existed.

Knock..knock!
Who is there?
Your!
Your what?
Your crazy is showing!
Steve 200mph Cruiz
5 / 5 (4) Jul 28, 2015
Otto,
How is sending a robot half way around the world to kill someone's dad in their sleep "the preferred moral alternative"?

I view it as an inevitability frankly, but the whole concept cheapens human life to a new low. This won't be saving any lives, that's not what it's designed for. Just as many people will be dying in total, if not more.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.8 / 5 (5) Jul 28, 2015
"If his dad is a terrorist what better time to kill him than in his sleep?"

-AI machines offer the potential capability of killing terrorist fathers while sparing their children.

Future munitions will be smaller and more precise but will be best suited for delivery by machines which can loiter for hours with unwavering attention spans and unerring accuracy, capable of choosing exactly the right moment to strike.
TheGhostofOtto1923
2.6 / 5 (5) Jul 28, 2015
"Cheapen life to a new low"

-Carpet bombing for annihilating armies is awful cheap.

Fire-bombing cities is cheaper still.

Machines which can kill only active combatants, who often cower amidst their families and hide their weapons in schools, are far more humane.

It is these terrorists, like their nazis forebears, who cheapen life and treat innocents like vermin.
TheGhostofOtto1923
2.6 / 5 (5) Jul 28, 2015
"Just as many people will be dying if not more"

-Indeed but they will be active enemy combatants. More of them and fewer of us.

The purpose of war is to destroy the enemy. Obsolete religionist cultures designed to outgrow and overrun their less prolific counterparts, are the real enemy.

They produce a continuous stream of cannon fodder. The west has always prevailed against these doomsday machines solely through the use of superior technology.
gkam
1.8 / 5 (5) Jul 28, 2015
Send otto and the other stay-at-home "patriots" to the war, . . any real war. Life is cheap and bravado ubiquitous in their juvenile world of glory and honor, and whatever other silly ideas they got about killing.
big_hairy_jimbo
not rated yet Jul 28, 2015
Well taking this further, we will see robots, vs robots.

I remember an old ORIGINAL Star Trek episode where the Waring populations performed war by computer alone. Each day the computer would state how many casualties each side had, and they had to comply and kill that amount of people. Yeah not quite the same, but the idea of robot vs robot reminded me of this episode!!
pauljpease
5 / 5 (3) Jul 28, 2015
@ghostofotto

You apparently haven't read all of the possible threats this technology creates. For example, these people, smarter than you, have pointed out that nuclear weapons, due to their nature take a nation-sized effort to build. Autonomous weapons on the other hand would be cheap and easily mass produced, easy for any small group of terrorists to duplicate once the tech is there. There was recently a video of a kid who strapped a handgun on a quadcopter and showed that it works well as a weapon. That was on youtube. How long do you think it will be before there is a mass shooting where such tech is employed? Someone could hover this into your backyard, murder your whole family and be miles away and practically impossible to track down. Standard law enforcement methods likely can't cope with this (no video of marathon bomber planting the devices, etc.) Sounds like a great world to live, or, more likely, die in. Bottom line, this empowers crazy people, not national militaries.
Steve 200mph Cruiz
4 / 5 (4) Jul 28, 2015
Otto,
But at least with airplanes you have a chance of fighting back.
The new low is the idea that wars will no longer be fought man to man, it will be capital to man.
A drone or whatever flying around assassinating people is a lot cheaper than having to go out and build a bomber and stock it with munitions and a trained qualified pilot.
Religion is not the evil force you claim it to be, poverty and lack education is the fuel to that fire. You are never going to fix the world by attempting to thought police everyone, psychology won't let you, the harder you squeeze, the more people rebel and the more people sympathize with your adversaries.

Are you reading a bunch of old military tactic books, why are you so gun ho? There are more nuanced aspects to war than simply having the finger of God, there are long term consequences for every act you take. Assassination missions have been the norm for SEALS and the CIA since the middle east wars began, iraq doesn't even exist anymore.
rgw
1 / 5 (1) Jul 29, 2015
All of the violence in which the US is now involved is solely the result of religion. You would not long stay on a park bench next to a bearded, wild eyed, finger pointing looney who claimed to be talking to a 'god'. Now we are required to 'negotiate' with this exact character type as part of twisted PC logic.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (3) Jul 29, 2015
Life is cheap and bravado ubiquitous in their juvenile world of glory and honor, and whatever other silly ideas they got about killing
-Says the 20yo private grunt and fetcher who spent his evenings in a cushy hotel in bancock.
nuclear weapons, due to their nature take a nation-sized effort to build
This is both irrelevant and false. All it takes is a rigue nation willing to sell or donate material. See this ref written by people smarter than you.
http://www.nci.or...keab.htm

-Obviously AI surveillance will be the preferred way of countering proliferation.
But at least with airplanes you have a chance of fighting back
??? What are you talking about? Drones are airplanes.
gkam
2.3 / 5 (6) Jul 29, 2015
Notice the difference in silly bravado between those who have served, and those who hid, but bought the biggest flags?

You can hear all kinds of authoritative stuff, . . . from those on the sidelines, . . hiding.
TheGhostofOtto1923
2.6 / 5 (5) Jul 29, 2015
Religion is not the evil force
OF COURSE it is. The surviving religions have all done so by outgrowing and overrunning the enemy. They restrict their women to making babies until it kills them.
poverty and lack education
The resulting overpopulation is the CAUSE of poverty, strife, and conflict. And when religionist children begin to starve, their parents and siblings read the books and learn who is responsible.

Infidels. People who are necessarily evil and as such have no right to displace believers and take what they need.

This infernal equation has always made war inevitable

Why do you think terrorists are so hard to defeat? Because their religions can supply a neverending supply of hapless young combatants.

Re education...

"Boko Haram... means "Western" or "non-Islamic" education is a sin"

-Religionists are already well educated to the fact that anything you have to teach them is evil. Check out vikos posts.

And they will kill you for trying.
gkam
2 / 5 (4) Jul 29, 2015
Jacob Bronowski said it most succinctly while standing in the bog holding the ashes of a million former people killed by those who thought they had Absolute Truth.
jeffensley
4 / 5 (4) Jul 29, 2015
Glad to see some scientists taking a moral stand against this. War isn't supposed to be easy. That human lives are put at risk every time war is waged is a deterrent to using violence as a shortcut to negotiation. Use AI as peace keepers in war-ravaged areas. Don't give them lethal weapons but give them the capacity to protect the innocent from genocide. Put them in the middle of a battlefield and have them stop missiles from passing in either direction. Give them a defensive capacity that makes firing a weapon against a foe a nearly pointless endeavor. Lets follow the lead set by the above scientists and prevent this disaster before it even begins.
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (5) Jul 29, 2015
FTA - "There are many ways in which AI can make battlefields safer for humans, especially civilians, without creating new tools for killing people," the letter said.

Anybody else see the absolute idiocy of that statement?

I suggest we eliminate war and instead make the leaders of countries with disagreements do "to the death" cage match's...
Or - reality TV game shows like Family Feud or Survivor...:-)
gkam
1.8 / 5 (5) Jul 29, 2015
"Are you reading a bunch of old military tactic books, why are you so gun ho?"
-----------------------------------------

Because he never served, he hid. He thinks war is like comic books, and he would be a big hero, but never had the guts to try. All should be made to be in the military and forced to see the outcomes of their "glory". We would see much less of the adolescent posturing endemic here.

Killing is not cool. It is the sign of a pathetic SCARED person who needs to prove power. The fact he needs to prove it, shows it is fanciful.
Uncle Ira
4 / 5 (4) Jul 29, 2015
Because he never served, he hid. He thinks war is like comic books, and he would be a big hero, but never had the guts to try.


It is the sign of a pathetic SCARED person who needs to prove power. The fact he needs to prove it, shows it is fanciful.


You getting a little bit over the top Skippy. You might not care so much for the otto-Skippy, choot even me has problems with his "style". But the things you are saying are things you have absolutely no way of knowing.

Maybe you did a twenty year stint with Deon Warwick as a super psychic between your other super-duper Commander McBragg industry and world changing stuffs you want us to think you did. Or maybe he was one of those 33,000 engineers you trained? I wonder if Caltech has trained that many engineers with 100 professors on the job.

We would see much less of the adolescent posturing endemic here.


Are you like that (hypocriting)? Or just posture like that here?
gkam
2 / 5 (4) Jul 29, 2015
Gosh, Ira, I am REALLY SORRY for having done all those things. I tried not to, but they were forced on me!

And for being real? I know, it breaks the Code of the Internet Troll/Sniper, those who hide behind pseudonyms and take shots of real folk, but I learned in my professions that lying is a dead end. It is safety to you folk, however, . . . the hiders.

Uncle Ira
4.2 / 5 (5) Jul 29, 2015
I am REALLY SORRY for having done all those things.


You don't seem so sorry to me.

And for being real? I know, it breaks the Code of the Internet Troll/Sniper, those who hide behind pseudonyms and take shots of real folk, but I learned in my professions that lying is a dead end. It is safety to you folk, however, . . the hiders.


Of course you did all things Skippy, I am on-board with you. Tell us about them in every postum instead of every other postum and I am sure the other Skippys will fall in line.

Did you and Bennie-Skippy and Returnering-Skippy and Really-Skippy go to the same school together? Bennie-Skippy learned to spell "differential equations" really good. Returnering-Skippy learned all about every subject, except finding a job or girlfriend. Really-Skippy was a scientist since he was 9 years old and has been working on his toes for 20 years or so. And you, well you done it all in one life-time and taught 33,000 engineers their trade to boot.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (2) Jul 29, 2015
Killing is not cool. It is the sign of a pathetic SCARED person
-So how many gooks did you kill while soldering circuit boards and spending your evenings in bangkok drinking bhang?

What deep inner enlightenment did you reach about war while soldering circuit boards and spending your evenings in bangkok drinking bhang?
And for being real? I know
You are a psychotic liar and fabricator. Of course youre real.

You are george kamburoff the psychotic liar and fabricator. We all KNOW who and what you are.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (2) Jul 29, 2015
ouch george youve dropped in the rankings from 3.4 to 2.8 in only the last few weeks. Is the flock deserting you? Youll just have to drum up more sympathy.

"Manipulation is the key to the psychopath's conquests. Initially, the psychopath will feign false emotions to create empathy, and many of them study the tricks that can be employed by the empathy technique. Psychopaths are often able to incite pity from people because they seem like "lost souls" as Guggenbuhl-Craig writes. So the pity factor is one reason why victims often fall for these "poor" people."

Yah maybe that'll work.
I tried not to, but they were forced on me!
Boo hooooooo! Ich fang gleich an zu weinen...
Steve 200mph Cruiz
5 / 5 (4) Jul 29, 2015
No otto, it's poverty.
In the centuries following Muhammad's death, the middle east was the place to be. Baghdad at one time was one of the greatest cities on earth.
Islam didnt go to war with the west until the popes in the European dark ages declared war on the Muslims to try and take back Jerusalem, they are still mad at us about the crusades.
When societies are able to be educated, they are able to remove fundamentalism from their societies. fundamentalism is the feedback the accentuates the causes of poverty, but it is not the cause in and of itself.
The dark ages were created from the collapse of the Roman empire, not the rise of Christianity. And a big reason why Christianity caught on so big was because without the centralized Roman government, Christian churches provided welfare and what passed for medicine in Europe at the time.

I dont think the problems of Africa and the middle east are because their religion is telling them to have a bunch of kids, but it doesnt help
Steve 200mph Cruiz
5 / 5 (2) Jul 29, 2015
Also this is still not combat proven technology.
I think a good sling shot with a well placed projectile could take out most drones.
Super soakers full of salt water will be pretty disastrous.
They will also be particularly susceptible to booby traps.
Hackers might be able to take them over, given our governments record on this stuff, although the military is better about this, at least I trust them to be.
We are a few decades from making these things quite on radar.
Strong homemade electromagnets are easy enough to make from scrap metal.

All this drama of killer robots might just be a big joke, people are fragile, but robots are even more so.
gkam
2 / 5 (4) Jul 29, 2015
"Boo hooooooo! Ich fang gleich an zu weinen..."
---------------------------------------------

You forgot the Seig Heil and the salute. Others have discussed your fascist tendencies, otto, and your hate, and your emotional stability is gone.

Do you wish you could get to the things in my hidden part of my website, the part with all those stories? The one about the ARIA got bought by Smithsonian Air and Space Magazine, otto, and some day, you will read all about how I saved an important mission, . . and something else.

What is the ratio of real posts to the ones in which I am the only one in your eyes? You really DO dream of me, don't you? You never told me if it leaves a stain.
gkam
3 / 5 (4) Jul 29, 2015
Was Hitler just misunderstood, otto? Your streak of Fascism has been noticed by others and fits with your pathetic little ego and your need for nasty words, as if they make you look like a real man.

But it is your fixation on "getting even" with me for letting you make yourself look like a little boy screaming at Mother. Got any more nasty filthy words in ALL CAPS?

This is about warfare. If you have any experience, tell us.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (3) Jul 30, 2015
So george the bigot who calls everyone who has the temerity to expose his ignorance 'goobers' thinks that German speakers are all nazis.

Like I say, it is obvious to everyone here that you are a very sick man. You enjoy flaunting it?
the hidden part of my website
-Is this where you keep your complete CV of the 20+ jobs you've lost over the course of your failed career? Yeah you ought to make that public instead of presenting it in bits and pieces here.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (3) Jul 30, 2015
no Otto it's poverty
overpopulation is the cause of poverty. Poverty happens when pops exceed the carrying capacity of the region.

Religion exploits this tendency by maximizing it. The people who configured the modern religions knew that their cultures would be overrun, as they had so many times in the past (see the sea peoples, huns, mongols, et al) unless they could grow even faster than their neighbors.
Steve 200mph Cruiz
5 / 5 (3) Aug 01, 2015
Over population is not the cause of poverty. China and India are freaking packed and generally speaking, people are doing fine.

They are okay because they understand science, history, and have a sense of civic contribution, which are the key factors missing from the crappy parts of the world, and hence the rise of ISIS and those kind of characters. They fill the void of belonging to something bigger than themselves which all of us strive for.

People in Africa and the middle east are stupid from years of fighting instead of going to school as kids, and they don't care about their governments because they are all artificial boundaries created by the west for book keeping purposes. Of course fundamentalism is going to rise in those conditions, their religion is the only thing they have that gives them a sense of dignity, everyone has pride.
kochevnik
1 / 5 (3) Aug 01, 2015
All of the violence in which the US is now involved is solely the result of religion. You would not long stay on a park bench next to a bearded, wild eyed, finger pointing looney who claimed to be talking to a 'god'. Now we are required to 'negotiate' with this exact character type as part of twisted PC logic.
USA wars all involve stealing gold from Central Banks in order to prop up the Treasury for a few months. History of USA is stealing gold. Fort Knox is empty. TBill investment down 66% since 2014 so USA makes BLIX partners buy it's toxic TBills and debases the BLIX currencies, along with stealing $1.4trillion Japanese pensions outright forcing Japan to debase the yen

War on terror is subsiding as USA realizes better to fund goon squads called ISIS in Iraq then negotiate with new Iraq government
Lex Talonis
5 / 5 (1) Aug 03, 2015
Killer Robots + Artificial Intelligence = Doom of the Human Race?

Land mines can stay on station for decades - kill whoever is tagged as an enemy, they have a spring and hammer for brains, an IQ of zero, and kill humans by the millions without a grain of compassion or after care for the wounded, or the innocent.

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