January 21, 2016
People take nuclear weapons seriously — and they’d better get equally serious about the future threat of automated killer robots.
No, this isn’t a joke.
A panel of top experts in the fields of robotics, weapons and disarmament called on world leaders Thursday to lay the groundwork to regulate killer robots as tightly as the nuclear sector.
The experts, who spoke at the World Economic Forum in Davos, want the world to be ready for the day when killer robots become a reality.
What is a killer robot? It’s a self-directed robot that can be programmed to target and kill people without human intervention. They don’t exist yet. But they’re coming.
It may sound like some sort of fantasy, dystopian scenario. But Berkeley computer science professor Stuart Russell says technology from drones and self-driving cars could easily be harnessed to make killer robots a reality within the next two years.
Angela Kane, a senior fellow at the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation, agrees that killer robots are a huge concern for the world.
“It’s much easier to manufacture [autonomous, lethal robots instead of nuclear weapons.] That, to me, is the greatest concern,” she said. “We must make sure [the technology] doesn’t get into the hands of the wrong people.”
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