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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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Self-driving Tesla Cars Coming Soon: Tesla CEO Elon Musk

"Tesla made zero cars in 2011, but will make around 500,000 cars in 2019"

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Tesla CEO Elon Musk. (VOA)

In yet another bold statement, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has announced that the company’s full self-driving feature will be completed by the end of this year.

By the end of 2020, the electric car maker’s self-driving feature will be so capable that one can even snooze in the driver seat while the car takes the person to the desired destination, the Wired quoted Musk as saying on Wednesday.

“I think we will be ‘feature complete’ on full self-driving this year, meaning the car will be able to find you in a parking lot, pick you up, take you all the way to your destination without an intervention this year,” Musk said during a podcast interview.

“I am certain of that. That is not a question mark.”

Musk’s revised timeline could be great news for Tesla buyers who have been waiting for the driverless feature for years.

Tesla said that every car produced since October 2016 has all the hardware needed to drive itself.

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Visitors inspect Tesla electric cars at Brussels Motor Show, Belgium, Jan. 18, 2019. VOA

Between October 2016 and October 2018, customers could even pay an extra $3,000 or so for a “full self-driving” feature, which Tesla promised they would eventually be able to unlock via a software update.

In January 2017, Musk said elements of that feature would start rolling out in three to six months. However, that did not happen.

In the podcast interview, Musk cautioned that it will take the company another year to get to the point where its cars can completely drive themselves.

“People sometimes will extrapolate (“feature complete”) to mean now (full self-driving) works with 100 per cent certainty, requiring no observation, perfectly. This is not the case,” he was quoted as saying.

Musk said that Tesla drivers would be able to fall asleep and wake up at their destinations using full self-drive by the end of 2020.

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SpaceX founder and chief executive Elon Musk, left, announces Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa (R) as the first private passenger on a trip around the moon. VOA

Until then, drivers will have to continue to monitor the technology and be ready to take control of the wheel if something goes wrong, the report said.

In another tweet, Musk said that Tesla made zero cars in 2011 but will produce 10,000 cars per week in 2019.

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“Tesla made zero cars in 2011, but will make around 500,000 cars in 2019”.

“Meant to say annualised production rate at end of 2019 probably around 500k, ie 10k cars/week. Deliveries for year still estimated to be about 400k,” he tweeted. (IANS)