Academics call boycott on South Korean university over 'killer robots'
MANILA, Philippines - Elon Musk, the billionaire behind Tesla and SpaceX openly claims that artificial intelligence (AI) technology could be the cause of another world war. He seems to share this sentiment with a lot of AI experts who have made the call to boycott the state-run, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) reportedly running a lab developing “killer robots.”
According to Vice News, University of New South Wales professor, Toby Walsh wrote an open letter criticizing the university which has been signed by more than 50 AI academics and researchers from various countries around the world.
“At a time when the United Nations is discussing how to contain the threat posed to international security by autonomous weapons, it is regrettable that a prestigious institution like KAIST looks to accelerate the arms race to develop such weapons,” Walsh wrote.
Walsh and all the letter’s signatories are now refusing to collaborate, visit, host visitors, or contribute to any research project with any part of the university until they receive assurance that autonomous weapons are not being worked on there.
“I would like to reaffirm that KAIST does not have any intention to engage in development of lethal autonomous weapons systems and killer robots,” Sung-Chul Shin, president of KAIST said.
Shin’s statement contradicts the now-deleted announcement that stated the program would be focusing on “AI-based command and decision systems, composite navigation algorithms for mega-scale unmanned undersea vehicles, AI-based smart aircraft training systems, and AI-based smart object tracking and recognition technology.”
It does not help that Hanwha Systems, a producer of munitions, collaborated with the university for this project. Hanwha Systems previously partnered with Korea University to develop the autonomous SGR-A1 sentry gun, which has already been deployed and in use.
The letter comes a week ahead of a United Nations meeting on autonomous weapons where more than 20 countries have already called for a total ban. Academics and industry leaders alike are growing more concerned of the threat AI-controlled weapons may pose to humanity.
Walsh likened the technology to Pandora’s box that when opened, may be hard to close saying, “If developed, autonomous weapons will be the third revolution in warfare. They will permit war to be fought faster and at a scale greater than ever before. They have the potential to be weapons of terror.”
To avoid Terminator-like events from happening, Walsh said that AI technology must be used to help humans rather than harm them. – Rappler.com