Elon Musk, his arch nemesis DeepMind swear off AI weapons

Thousands of researchers sign pledge to not develop lethal AI

Hundreds of organisations and thousands of techies, including Elon Musk, Demis Hassabis from Google's DeepMind, and the head of the Chocolate Factory's AI lab Jeff Dean have promised never to support the development of autonomous weapons.

The pledge was organised by the Future of Life Institute, an outreach geroup focused on tackling existential risks. It was co-founded by a group of researchers, including Max Tegmark, a physics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Viktoriya Krakovna, a scientist at DeepMind, and Jann Tallinn, co-founder of Skype.

“We will neither participate in nor support the development, manufacture, trade, or use of lethal autonomous weapons,” it reads.

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The promise is based on a “moral component” that machines should be forbidden from making “life-taking decisions.” Devoid of any human intervention, autonomous weapons would also destabilize every country and its citizens.

“Moreover, lethal autonomous weapons have characteristics quite different from nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, and the unilateral actions of a single group could too easily spark an arms race that the international community lacks the technical tools and global governance systems to manage,” it said.

The pledge doesn’t go into much detail about any possible weapon systems or the level of autonomy needed to classify it as a lethal autonomous weapon. But it does briefly note other pressing issues about how the technology could be used oppressively for surveillance purposes.

So far, 172 organisations, including DeepMind, ClientEarth and University College London, have signed it. There is also another column dedicated to the 2,492 individual signatories, including all the co-founders of DeepMind, and notable researchers like Stuart Russell at UC Berkeley and the University of Montreal's Yoshua Bengio. ®

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