18th July 2018
Leading AI companies and researchers pledge to not develop lethal autonomous weapons
More than 2,400 researchers, scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs and others have signed a pledge – organised by the Future of Life Institute (FLI) – promising not to develop lethal autonomous weapons.
In addition to many prominent individuals, the list of signatories also includes over 160 AI-related firms and organisations from around the world – such as Google DeepMind, XPRIZE Foundation, University College London, the European Association for AI (EurAI), Swedish AI Society (SAIS), ClearPath Robotics and OTTO Motors.
The pledge is being announced today at the annual International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI) in Sweden, which draws over 5,000 of the world’s leading AI researchers. It states:
Max Tegmark, president of the Future of Life Institute (FLI), commented: “I’m excited to see AI leaders shifting from talk to action, implementing a policy that politicians have thus far failed to put into effect. AI has huge potential to help the world – if we stigmatise and prevent its abuse. AI weapons that autonomously decide to kill people are as disgusting and destabilising as bioweapons, and should be dealt with in the same way.”
“We cannot hand over the decision as to who lives and who dies to machines. They do not have the ethics to do so,” explains Toby Walsh, Professor of Artificial Intelligence at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, another key organiser of the pledge. “I encourage you and your organisations to pledge to ensure that war does not become more terrible in this way.
“We need to make it the international norm that autonomous weapons are not acceptable,” he adds. “A human must always be in the loop. We cannot stop a determined person from building autonomous weapons, just as we cannot stop a determined person from building a chemical weapon. But if we don’t want rogue states or terrorists to have easy access to autonomous weapons, we must ensure they are not sold openly by arms companies.”
A UN meeting on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS) is being held next month, and signatories of the pledge hope it will encourage lawmakers to develop a commitment at the level of an international agreement between countries.
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