The threat to humanity posed by autonomous war machines designed solely to kill is so grave that a petition by famous scientists is pushing the world to adopt an international treaty banning the autonomous war machines.
An open letter published by the Future of Life Institute, signed by none other than Stephen Hawking, philosopher Daniel Dennett, Apple’s Steve Wozniack and Tesla’s Elon Musk, included a petition to unite under a common cause to end the production of autonomous war weaponry.
The age of autonomous living is in sight. Driverless vehicles are heralding a new dawn on American roads, while self propelling drones can capture images and videos on their own, without humans instructing them. These technological advances have not been popularly accepted, with many people too fearful of ceding control over their lives to emotionless machines and the privacy breach issues apparent in hovering image capturing drones.
The idea of autonomous machines raises the prospect of rogue independence; that these machines, at some point, simply cannot be checked and will not be answerable to anyone. Add autonomous weaponry to the fold and what you have is a Terminator-style unrestricted license to kill.
Autonomous weapons have been described as those that "select and engage targets without human intervention." These weapons only need to have their kill switches turned on and the consequences can be dire; utter genocide in a worst case scenario.
The scientists expressed deep rooted concern over the capabilities of such weaponry. They said, “Autonomous weapons are ideal for tasks such as assassinations, destabilizing nations, subduing populations and selectively killing a particular ethnic group.”
The experts want an international treaty signed that would see the end of autonomous weaponry manufacturing, just as other dangerous weapons including blinding lasers and chemicals were prohibited through binding treaties.
The experts added, "Just as most chemists and biologists have no interest in building chemical or biological weapons, most AI researchers have no interest in building AI weapons -- and do not want others to tarnish their field by doing so, potentially creating a major public backlash against AI that curtails its future societal benefits.”
Videos of armed drones shooting moving targets have surfaced signaling a progressive movement into having machines fight for humans. These machines, devoid of human limitations, compassion and mortality, once activated and instructed to kill, can erase entire populations from the face of the planet. Governments must join hands in ensuring their immediate prohibition.