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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.

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After Tearful Interview, Musk Plans for Providing Tesla Car to The Masses at $25,000

Musk's tweet caused a financial firestorm with Tesla shares immediately skyrocketing by almost 11 per cent, although in the coming days they lost a good part of what they had gained and tanked further after Musk's interview with the NYT

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'Tearful' Musk aims for $25,000 Tesla car for the masses. (VOA)

After giving a “tearful” interview to The New York Times, Tesla Chairman and CEO Elon Musk sat with popular You Tuber Marques Brownlee for a chat, revealing his plans for a mass-market electric vehicle priced as low as $25,000.

“That’s something we could do. If we work really hard i think maybe we could do that in three years,” Musk replied to Brownlee (who goes by the handle @MKBHD on Google-owned YouTube) on Friday.

The interview took place on August 15 but a 17-minute video was uploaded by Brownlee on YouTube on Friday — a week after Musk tweeted about taking Tesla private with “funding secured” that created a storm at the Tesla board and amid market watchers.

According to The Verge, Musk said in the YouTube interview that he hoped to scale production at Tesla and lower their design and technology costs enough to be able to offer a truly mass-market electric vehicle.

Currently, the price for Tesla Model 3 starts from $35,000 and Model S from $75,000.

“Musk also expressed a desire to improve production to the point where Tesla can make two cars at once,” said the report. “We’ve really gotta figure out how to make two new vehicles at the same time,” Musk told Brownlee.

The YouTube interview came a day after Musk spoke to NYT about “excruciating” times at Tesla, noting that he “nearly missed his brother’s wedding this summer and spent his birthday holed up in Tesla’s offices as the company raced to meet elusive production targets on a crucial new model”.

Earlier this week, Musk confirmed that he is closely working with Goldman Sachs and private-equity firm Silver Lake to take the electric carmaker private — a deal that would need nearly $70 billion in funding.

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According to Musk, “two thirds” of Tesla’s current stockholders would be interested in continuing to hold the firm’s shares once it goes private. (VOA)

“I’m excited to work with Silver Lake and Goldman Sachs as financial advisors, plus Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz and Munger, Tolles & Olson as legal advisors, on the proposal to take Tesla private,” Musk tweeted.

Musk said that in late July, he met Saudi Arabian sovereign fund representatives to discuss the electric carmaker’s possible exit from the stock market.

He said in a statement that the Saudi sovereign fund had first contacted him “at the beginning of 2017 to express (their) interest because of the important need to diversify away from oil”.

“I continue to have discussions with the Saudi fund, and I also am having discussions with a number of other investors, which is something that I always planned to do since I would like for Tesla to continue to have a broad investor base,” he added.

He said he had most recently met with the Saudis on July 31 and left that meeting “with no question that a deal with the… fund could be closed, and that it was just a matter of getting the process moving”.

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“This is why I referred to ‘funding secured’ in the August 7 announcement,” he said, referring to his surprise tweet on that date that he was thinking about taking Tesla private.

According to Musk, “two thirds” of Tesla’s current stockholders would be interested in continuing to hold the firm’s shares once it goes private.

On August 7, Musk surprised the investment world with a Twitter announcement that he was considering taking Tesla private and that the funds needed to do so – which some financial analysts estimate at more than $70 billion – were “secured”.

Musk’s tweet caused a financial firestorm with Tesla shares immediately skyrocketing by almost 11 per cent, although in the coming days they lost a good part of what they had gained and tanked further after Musk’s interview with the NYT. (IANS)