By Nick Mafi. Photo by: Getty Images.
Tesla's CEO, Elon Musk, was one of 116 experts from robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) companies who are calling on the United Nations (UN) to ban autonomous weapons. Leaders from across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia have urged the UN to stop these types of technologies from being created, machines which can identify and attack a target without human intervention. The timing of the letter was meant to coincide at the same moment the UN was bringing together its Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems, to discuss the issue. "Lethal autonomous weapons threaten to become the third revolution in warfare," the letter reads. "Once developed, they will permit armed conflict to be fought at a scale greater than ever, and at timescales faster than humans can comprehend. These can be weapons of terror, weapons that despots and terrorists use against innocent populations, and weapons hacked to behave in undesirable ways. We do not have long to act. Once this Pandora's box is opened, it will be hard to close."
The reason so many major players in the world of robotics and AI felt compelled to pen this letter was simple. The GGE has just held it's first meeting to consider whether lethal autonomous weapons should be added to the list of those banned or restricted under the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (the list already includes landmines, booby traps, incendiary weapons, blinding laser weapons, among others).
For Musk—who is arguably best known for his high-profile role at Tesla and SpaceX—the issue is of grave importance. The forty-six year old South African-born innovator also has a startup that is creating devices to connect the human brain with computers in an attempt to develop AI in a way that will, presumably, have a positive effect on humanity. The issue of AI being used for nefarious reasons is something Musk has spoken about for years, at one point warning governments to regulate the technology, which he deemed an existential threat.
This story originally appeared on Architectural Digest.
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