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20th November 2017

Slaughterbots

The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, launched in April 2013, is a coalition of AI researchers and advocacy organisations that was established in response to growing concerns about autonomous weapons. Member organisations joining the campaign have urged governments and the United Nations to issue policies to outlaw the development of "lethal autonomous weapons systems" (LAWS).

In July 2015, more than 1,000 experts in artificial intelligence signed a letter warning of the threat of an arms race in military AI and calling for a ban on autonomous weapons. The letter was co-signed by Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, Steve Wozniak, Noam Chomsky, Skype co-founder Jaan Tallinn and Google DeepMind co-founder Demis Hassabis, among others.

This month, the campaign has released a fictional video – Slaughterbots – that depicts a disturbing near-future, in which lethal autonomous weapons have become cheap and ubiquitous worldwide.

"Drone technology today is very close to having fully autonomous capabilities," writes Jessica Cussins at the Future of Life Institute, which provided funding for the film. "And many of the world's leading AI researchers worry that if these autonomous weapons are ever developed, they could dramatically lower the threshold for armed conflict, ease and cheapen the taking of human life, empower terrorists, and create global instability. The US and other nations have used drones and semi-automated systems to carry out attacks for several years now, but fully removing a human from the loop is at odds with international humanitarian and human rights law."

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