Science, tech leaders warn of worldwide Al arms race

Science, Tech Leaders Warn of Worldwide AI Arms Race

Major players in the tech and science industries are warning world leaders an artificial intelligence arms race could be a problem in the future.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and renowned physicist Stephen Hawking, among other prominent figures, are warning world leaders of the potential problem as autonomous military weapons continue to grow.

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Science, tech leaders warn of worldwide Al arms race
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 09: Professor Stephen Hawking attends the UK Premiere of 'The Theory Of Everything' at Odeon Leicester Square on December 9, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 18: The world's best know scientist Professor Stephen Hawking takes's Official Guest of Honour Adaeze Uyanwah on a personal guided tour of his favourite places in the city's famous Science Museum on February 18, 2015 in London, England. On the tour Professor Hawking said he was pleased to lend his synthesised 'voice' to actor Eddie Redmayne for his Oscar-nominated performance in The Theory of Everything but added ' unfortunatley Eddie did not inherit my good looks.' (Photo by Tristan Fewings/Getty Images for London & Partners)
Theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking poses for a picture ahead of a gala screening of the documentary film 'Hawking', a film about his life, at the opening night of the Cambridge Film Festival in Cambridge, eastern England on September 19, 2013. Hawking tells the extraordinary tale of how he overcame severe disability to become the most famous living scientist in a new documentary film premiered in Britain. (Photo credit: ANDREW COWIE/AFP/Getty Images)

​In a letter presented at the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Buenos Aires, the group wrote that "AI technology has reached a point where the deployment of [autonomous weapons] is – practically if not legally – feasible within years, not decades, and the stakes are high: autonomous weapons have been described as the third revolution in warfare, after gunpowder and nuclear arms."

The letter asks the United Nations to ban the use of autonomous weapons.

The argument, as The Guardian points out, is going to war would be an easier decision if robots are the ones fighting.

Drone strikes are already a contentious issue in the U.S., but reliable statistics for how many are killed by those strikes overseas every year are tough to come by.

Civilian deaths caused by drones are also an issue, though President Obama's defended their use.

"Actually, drones have not caused a huge number of civilian casualties. For the most part, they've been very precise precision strikes against Al-Qaeda and their affiliates, and we're very careful in terms of how it's been applied," Obama said.

Musk has warned of this kind of AI takeover before, including this August 2014 tweet reading, "We need to be super careful with AI. Potentially more dangerous than nukes."

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