Elon Musk is warning the world that we must take action now to avoid a future robot apocalypse.
Earlier this month, the Space-X and Tesla entrepreneur spoke out against the dangers of artificial intelligence, and now Musk joins over 100 other world leaders in robotics and AI technology calling on the United Nations to ban development of autonomous weapons according to TMZ.
“Lethal autonomous weapons threaten to become the third revolution in warfare,” says Musk in an open letter released Monday. “Once developed, they will permit armed conflict to be fought at a scale greater than ever, and at timescales faster than humans can comprehend.”
The letter is addressed to the United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, an organization that governs the use of weapons that are “considered to cause unnecessary or unjustifiable suffering to combatants or to affect civilians indiscriminately.” It includes 115 signatures from leading world experts such as Alphabet’s artificial intelligence expert Mustafa Suleyman, and Ryan Gariepy, founder of Clearpath Robotics.
Intending to halt a potential AI arms race, the letter addresses the lack of regulation concerning autonomous weapons, however, the technology continues to advance. “Guard robots” already exist in some places, such as the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea.
“These can be weapons of terror, weapons that despots and terrorists use against innocent populations, and weapons hacked to behave in undesirable ways,” warns Musk in the letter, released just ahead of formal UN talks taking place in Melbourne, Australia. Those talks are to be held with world leaders and will hopefully lead to an eventual treaty governing the use of artificial intelligence in weapons and militaries around the globe.
Musk’s fears of a world overrun by intelligent weapons are not entirely unfounded. Weapons development involving both robotics and artificial intelligence continues at a rapid pace in the United States, and no country is so far willing to slow down for fear of being overtaken by everyone else.
This is also hardly the first time that Musk spoke out against the dangers of AI. Over the past few years, Musk has been making ever more powerful warnings, and just last month he called artificial intelligence the greatest risk to humanity’s survival there is currently.
“AI is a fundamental risk to the future of human civilization in a way that car accidents, airplane crashes, faulty drugs or bad food were not,” he said.
Whether or not the future robot apocalypse resembles The Matrix or Terminator 2 remains the be seen, but either way, we should be very worried.