Tech Leaders Call for Ban on ‘Killer Robots’


For years, we've heard the concerns about robots taking human jobs, but now a group of powerful people is raising a much bigger issue---killer robots. This week, Tesla CEO Elon Musk and a group of technology experts gathered at the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Australia to call for a global ban on the use of military weapons powered by artificial intelligence a.k.a. "killer robots." In a joint letter, Musk and the other experts call autonomous robotic weapons "morally wrong." These weapons include drones, tanks and machine guns.

Some military experts believe the fears about robotic weapons are overblown. Retired Army Major General Bill McClain tells KTRH he recently saw a report on robotically-powered drones. "Drones being used in large ways, a great many of them," he says. "But it was made clear by the senior officers who were interviewed that the tactical decisions would be made by humans." In other words, even though some weapons use artificial intelligence, they are still ultimately controlled by humans and thus not autonomous.

 McClain believes AI is just the latest advancement in military capability, one that we need to adapt to rather than suppress. "Every so often there's a new weapon or new means brought to the fore, and we have to learn how to tackle it...whether it was airplanes, or then it became guided missile systems," he says. And McClain thinks the answer isn't to ban any weapon, but to be ready to counter it, if necessary. "The issue is for you to have defensive capabilities, whether it's artificial intelligence or human-driven," he says.


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