Apparently the first fully autonomous self driving military vehicle has been deployed by the Israelis to patrol the border with the Gaza Strip. The idea is for this UGV (unmanned ground vehicle) to take over from regular troop patrols to secure the border against problems. The horrifying news, however, is the fact that they’re already talking about equipping the vehicle with weapons such as machine guns (and who knows, rockets?), and eventually giving it autonomous AI (artificial intelligence) control of the weapons. What the…??
What this means is the IDF (Israeli Defence Force) will run a fleet of totally autonomous killing machines, cutely called Border Protectors, which will be roaming around fully armed and able to make their own decisions about when and how to deploy their weapon load to protect Israeli territory.
Is it just me that finds this whole idea completely insane? We can be absolutely certain that whatever the Israeli army does, will be followed closely by every other hawk in existence, which means we should be able to look forward to a world awash in robocops like this, all making digital decisions on life and death in a fraction of a nano-second.
So in which scenario does this turn out to be a great idea for the security of the world? I am truly struggling to find any logic, or long term benefit to creating autonomous killer machines like this. But thankfully other people also think the same thing.
Last year nearly 21,000 people signed an open letter on AI weapons, including Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking, Steve Wozniak, and other notables, calling for an immediate ban on ‘offensive autonomous weapons beyond human control.’ Their mistake was to limit the call for a ban on ‘offensive’ AI weapons, because it’s now clear that the military is just going to start producing a huge inventory of AI controlled ‘defensive’ weapons. This is absolutely unbelievable. And unbelievably stupid.
The mere idea of an AI weapons arms race is enough to send chills down any rational thinking person’s spine. Giving kill control to non-sentient machines is beyond Terminator horrific, it is positively criminally insane. At what point do we wring our hands when these things get hacked, or malfunction or whatever else we cannot imagine right now?
We need to call for a global ban on these things IMMEDIATELY. As a potential crime against humanity!
[Update: we have started a Change.Org petition here. Please forward if you agree with our concerns.]