Autonomous weapons: Third revolution in warfare
Stephen Hawking, Steve Wozniak, and many other eminent researchers and scientists have published an open letter where they warn about the military use of artificial intelligence.
Autonomous weapons are one step beyond the already controversial use of remotely piloted drones for which humans make all targeting decisions. They might include, for example, armed quadcopters that can search for and eliminate people meeting certain pre-defined criteria.
The authors expect that once one major military power will start pushing the AI weapon development, this will cause a global arms race. They outline that these weapons will be relatively easy to create, that will lead to both mass- production and exploitation by terrorist groups.
Advocates for AI weapons would argue that AI weapons would reduce the risk and loss of lives in a military conflict. The authors counter this argument and fear that this would lower the threshold for going to battle, and that the nature of these weapons would make them ideal for offensive and malicious tasks such as assassinations, destabilizing nations, subduing populations and selectively killing a particular ethnic group.
The authors conclude their letter, stating that there are many ways in which AI can make battlefields safer for humans, especially civilians, without creating new tools for killing people. A military AI arms race is a bad idea, and should be prevented by a ban on offensive autonomous weapons beyond meaningful human control.