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‘Killer robots with AI should be banned’

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

Addressing concerns regarding start of a “military arms race”, more than 1,000 robotics experts and artificial intelligence (AI) researchers, spanning physicist Stephen Hawking, technologist Elon Musk, and philosopher Noam Chomsky have signed an open letter calling for the ban of offensive autonomous weapons, better known as “killer robots”.

Apart from hundreds of AI and robotics researchers from top-flight universities and laboratories, the signatories of the letter include Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.

“AI technology has reached a point where the deployment of such systems is – practically if not legally – feasible within years, not decades”, says the letter put together by the Future of Life Institute, a group that works to mitigate “existential risks facing humanity”.

Autonomous weapons “have been described as the third revolution in warfare, after gunpowder and nuclear arms”, the letter further adds.

The weapons include armed drones that can search for and kill certain people based on their programming.

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Warning against the pitfalls of AI, the letter says that despite the institute seeing the “great potential [of AI] to benefit humanity in many ways”, the development of robotic weapons would prove useful to terrorists, brutal dictators, and those wishing to perpetrate ethnic cleansing.

As such the weapons do not yet truly exist, but the technology that would allow them to be used is under works.

By eliminating the risk of human deaths, robotic weapons would lower the threshold for going to war thereby making wars potentially more common, the signatories to the letter believe.

By building robotic weapons, the letter warns that a public backlash could grow and curtail the genuine benefits of AI.

Working to pre-emptively ban robotic weapons, the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, a group formed in 2012 by a list of NGOs including Human Rights Watch, is trying to get the Convention of Conventional Weapons to set up a group of governmental experts which would look into the issue.

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The Convention of Conventional Weapons in Geneva is a UN-linked group that seeks to prohibit the use of certain conventional weapons such as landmines and laser weapons which were pre-emptively banned in 1995.

Meanwhile, the UK has opposed a ban on killer robots at a UN conference, saying that it “does  not see the need for a prohibition” of autonomous weapons.

South Korea has unveiled similar weapons; armed sentry robots whose cameras and heat sensors allow detection and tracking of humans automatically, although the machines require a human operator to fire the weapons.

Next Story

SpaceX Run By Elon Musk Aims To Raise $250mn in New Funding For Hitting $36bn Valuation

SpaceX is preparing its Crew Dragon spacecraft to fly NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to and from the space station in the first flight. The uncrewed Demo-1 mission flew in March last year

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The fundraising comes as SpaceX continues development on three important programmes: Crew Dragon, Starlink and Starship, reports CNBC. Wikimedia Commons

Elon Musk-run SpaceX is aiming to raise around $250 million in new funding that would bring the rocket launch company’s valuation to $36 billion.

The fundraising comes as SpaceX continues development on three important programmes: Crew Dragon, Starlink and Starship, reports CNBC.

The company raised $1.33 billion during 2019 and has raised more than $3 billion in funding to date.

The new round of funding could close sometime in the middle of next month.

SpaceX has received a $3.1 billion contract award as part of NASA commercial crew programme. It charges its customers nearly $60 million per launch of one of its Falcon 9 rockets and had 13 such launches in 2019.

Ahead of its launch of astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard its Crew Dragon capsule which is tentatively scheduled for May 7, SpaceX has hired a top former human spaceflight expert.

In his new role, William Gerstenmaier, the former leader of NASA’s human spaceflight programme, is reporting to SpaceX Vice President of mission assurance Hans Koenigsmann.

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Elon Musk-run SpaceX is aiming to raise around $250 million in new funding that would bring the rocket launch company’s valuation to $36 billion. Wikimedia Commons

SpaceX is preparing its Crew Dragon spacecraft to fly NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to and from the space station in the first flight. The uncrewed Demo-1 mission flew in March last year.

“We’re highly confident that the hardware will be ready in Q1, most likely at the end of February but no later than March. And we think it appears probable that the first crewed launch would occur in the second quarter,” said Musk after the successful uncrewed test of its Crew Dragon capsule’s in-flight launch escape capabilities last month.

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Musk said that if all goes well, the first crewed flight on the Crew Dragon could take place in the second quarter of this year. (IANS)