Technology to eventually streamline

images-11A who’s-who grouping of the world’s most prominent minds has signed onto a letter urging robotics researchers to be extremely cautious in developing artificial intelligence (AI) technology, warning that an inevitable military AI arms race could (and likely will) unfold, leading to “a third revolution in warfare.”

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, Tesla’s Elon Musk, scientist Stephen Hawking and more than 1,000 others, presenting at the recent International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Argentina, obviously see the writing on the wall: If AI technologies continue to develop unabated, they say, autonomous weapons systems that operate without human input will eventually commit atrocities like mass genocide and ethnic cleansing campaigns.

“Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology has reached a point where the deployment of such systems is — practically if not legally — feasible within years, not decades, and the stakes are high: autonomous weapons have been described as the third revolution in warfare, after gunpowder and nuclear arms,” their letter reads.

“It will only be a matter of time until they appear on the black market and in the hands of terrorists, dictators wishing to better control their populace, warlords wishing to perpetrate ethnic cleansing, etc. Autonomous weapons are ideal for tasks such as assassinations, destabilizing nations, subduing populations and selectively killing a particular ethnic group.”

AI robots help or hurt humans?

AI robot technology is already being used to perform unskilled labor and other mundane tasks that humans would rather not have to do themselves. Automated pesticide drones have now received Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval for use in the spraying of genetically-modified (GM) and other chemical-reliant food crops, for instance.

Experiments have also been conducted on AI robots capable of planting, watering, and caring for plants without human intervention. This segment of AI development claims to be working “for” humanity rather than “against” it.

But AI as a whole remains an existential threat to human subsistence, these men and their colleagues warn. The endpoint of where AI technology is headed looks grim, at least on its current trajectory. The unmitigated endeavors of AI programmers and visionaries must be reigned in to prevent the full-scale annihilation of human civilization.