Manufacturing News

UNSW robotics expert speaks out against autonomous weapons

Professor Toby Walsh, an artificial intelligence expert from UNSW’s School of Computer Science and Engineering, will speak at the United Nations in New York this week, calling for a ban on autonomous weapons.

A professor of artificial intelligence (AI) at UNSW, and former scientific director at NICTA, Professor Walsh helped draft an open letter in July 2015, calling for a ban on weapons which rely on AI systems to select and engage targets without human intervention.

The open letter gained more than 3000 signatures from AI researchers around the world, and from a number of high profile scientists, entrepreneurs and intellectuals, including Stephen Hawking, Noam Chomsky, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, and Tesla founder Elon Musk.

Professor Walsh was invited by the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots to address a side event at the UN General Assembly’s First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, which looks at threats to peace.

According to Professor Walsh, any major military power which pushes ahead with AI weapon development will trigger a global arms race.

“Autonomous weapons will become the Kalashnikovs of tomorrow,” he warned.

This would allow autonomous weapons to fall into the hands of terrorists or dictators, and be used to carry out assassinations, or to subjugate or ethnically cleanse entire populations.

At the UN, Professor Walsh will discuss the growing risks and ethical concerns posed by AI weapons, and try to influence member states to impose a complete ban.

Professor Walsh warned that it would take very little to convert weapons like drones into autonomous weapons, by taking the human out of the loop and replacing them with a computer,

While several countries have openly supported a ban, Professor Walsh says there has been resistance from weapons manufacturers, and countries with technologically advanced militaries such as the US, Israel, the UK and China. Australia has yet to take a formal stance on the issue.

Leave a Reply

Send this to a friend