Physicist Stephen Hawking, business magnate Elon Musk, and more than 1,000 engineers have signed a letter that warns about artificial intelligence and the negative consequences they say come with it.
The letter claims
the technology that could make artificial intelligence a reality is years away from being ready.
"Autonomous weapons select and engage targets without human intervention," reads the letter, whose list of signees is quite long. "They might include, for example, armed quadcopters that can search for and eliminate people meeting certain pre-defined criteria, but do not include cruise missiles or remotely piloted drones for which humans make all targeting decisions. Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology has reached a point where the deployment of such systems is — practically if not legally — feasible within years, not decades, and the stakes are high: autonomous weapons have been described as the third revolution in warfare, after gunpowder and nuclear arms."
What the group is worried about is an artificial intelligence "arms race."
"We believe that AI has great potential to benefit humanity in many ways, and that the goal of the field should be to do so," the letter reads. "Starting a military AI arms race is a bad idea, and should be prevented by a ban on offensive autonomous weapons beyond meaningful human control."
Hawking and Musk have been venting their concerns about artificial intelligence for months. Last October, Musk — whose business interests include Tesla Motors and SpaceX — said the technology could lead to the end of life on Earth.
"I don't think anyone realizes how quickly artificial intelligence is advancing. Particularly if involved in recursive self-improvement ... and its utility function is something that's detrimental to humanity, then it will have a very bad effect," Musk said.
"If it is just something like getting rid of email spam and it determines the best way of getting rid of spam is getting rid of humans."
Hawking echoed the statement
two months later.
"The primitive forms of artificial intelligence we already have, have proved very useful," Hawking said. "But I think the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race."
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