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AI group led by Elon Musk wants ban of killer robots

SYDNEY: Elon Musk is leading demands for a global ban on killer robots, warning that technological advances could revolutionise warfare and create new "weapons of terror" that target innocent people.

The CEO of Tesla and SpaceX joined more than 100 robotics and artificial intelligence entrepreneurs in signing a letter to the United Nations calling for action to prevent the development of autonomous weapons.

"Lethal autonomous weapons threaten to become the third revolution in warfare," warned the statement signed by 116 tech luminaries, also including Mustafa Suleyman, co-founder of Google's DeepMind.

"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 letter read.

The innovators also highlighted the danger that the technology could fall into the wrong hands. "These can be weapons of terror, weapons that despots and terrorists use against innocent populations, and weapons hacked to behave in undesirable ways," the letter read.

"We do not have long to act. Once this Pandora's box is opened, it will be hard to close."

Both Mr Musk and British astrophysicist Stephen Hawking have regularly warned of the dangers of artificial intelligence.

The renewed plea on autonomous weapons was released as the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Melbourne got underway yesterday, with a record 2,000 of the world's top AI and robotics experts taking part, organisers said.

One expert said autonomous weapons could make war more likely. Said Professor Mary-Anne Williams of the University of Technology Sydney: "Today the potential loss of human life is a deterrent for conflict initiation and escalation, but when the main casualties are robots, the disincentives change dramatically and the likelihood of conflict increases."

But she warned that a killer robot ban may be disregarded by some nations, but would stop "countries such as Australia from developing defensive killer robots, thereby being vulnerable to other countries and groups that ignore the ban". - AFP

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