NEW YORK : A group of 116 founders of robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) companies have called on the UN to ban autonomous weapons, the media reported. "Lethal autonomous weapons threaten to become the third revolution in warfare. Once developed, they will permit armed conflict to be fought at a scale greater than ever, and at timescales faster than humans can comprehend," the group warned in an open letter released Monday.
"These can be weapons of terror, weapons that despots and terrorists use against innocent populations, and weapons hacked to behave in undesirable ways."
The signatories are from companies spread across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia and include Elon Musk, CEO and founder of Tesla and SpaceX; and Mustafa Suleyman, an AI specialist at Google, reports CNN.
"Unlike other potential manifestations of AI, which still remain in the realm of science fiction, autonomous weapons systems are on the cusp of development right now and have a very real potential to cause significant harm to innocent people along with global instability," said Ryan Gariepy, the founder of Clearpath Robotics and the first person to sign the letter.
More than a dozen countries, including the US, China, Israel, South Korea, Russia and Britain, are currently developing autonomous weapons systems, according to the Human Rights Watch.
The open letter was released at an AI conference in Melbourne earlier in the day ahead of a UN meeting of government experts on autonomous weapons, CNN reported.
The Australia-based professor who helped organise the letter, Toby Walsh, warned that AI can "be used in autonomous weapons to industrialise war".
Walsh, who teaches at the University of New South Wales, had organised a letter warning of the dangers of autonomous weapons in 2015.
It was signed by renowned physicist Stephen Hawking and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.
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