Electric Dreams and Nightmares
BY KRIS THOMAS
The third revolution, following the invention and application of gunpowder and nuclear arms, is upon us. Presently, if one thinks about it, we are closer to successfully creating artificial intelligence, as never before and that countdown keeps on catching speed with every passing day. We have reached a point where the deployment of autonomous weapons is feasible within years, rather than decades. That's how close we are to developing the technology.
While there are obvious economic benefits of using and incorporating artificial intelligence into a society, there are obvious areas that should completely strive away from that application. However, like any other invention that initially intended to be useful for humanity ends up becoming highly volatile when its uses are abused. This happened with gunpowder, which was hoped to be used as a mining tool and to nuclear energy, which has now been developed so thoroughly, that it exists in the form of mobile nuclear warheads the size of a small suitcase! It won't take long for artificial intelligence to be militarized therefore in this context.
In response to this growing fear of militarized artificial intelligence and lethal autonomous weapons, Tesla's Elon Musk together with 116 specialists from 26 countries are calling for a ban on such weapons. These individuals, considered to be world's leading robotics and artificial intelligence pioneers, are calling on the United Nations to ban the development or use of killer robots – yes, I said it.
The United Nations recently voted to commence formal discussions on such weapons which include drones, unmanned tanks and automated machine guns. Ahead of this, the group of founders of AI and robotics companies have sent an open letter to the UN calling for it to prevent the arms race that is currently under way for killer robots.
In their letter, the founders warn the review conference of the convention on conventional weapons that this arms race threatens to usher in the 'third revolution in warfare' after gunpowder and nuclear arms.
The founders wrote: "Once developed, lethal autonomous weapons will permit armed conflict to be fought at a scale greater than ever, and at timescales faster than humans can comprehend. These can be weapons of terror, weapons that despots and terrorists use against innocent populations, and weapons hacked to behave in undesirable ways.
"We do not have long to act. Once this Pandora's Box is opened, it will be hard to close."
While AI can be used to make the battlefield a safer place for military personnel, experts fear that offensive weapons that operate on their own would lower the threshold of going to battle and result in greater loss of human life.
The letter, launching at the opening of the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI) in Melbourne on Monday (21), has the backing of high-profile figures in the robotics field and strongly stresses the need for urgent action, after the UN was forced to delay a meeting that was due to start Monday to review the issue.
As we previously discussed in my last article (on nuclear energy and the paranoia that surrounds it caused by nuclear arms), it is a given that nearly every technology can be used for good and bad. Artificial Intelligence is no different. It will help tackle and provide assistance to change many of the pressing issues faced by society today; from inequality to poverty, to challenges posed by climate change and the ongoing global financial crisis. Yet, we see the same technology being primed to industrialize war. Elon Musk, calling it humanity's biggest existential threat, has gone on to say, "Nobody likes being regulated, but everything (cars, planes, food, drugs, etc) that's a danger to the public is regulated."
As mentioned before, lethal autonomous weapons are on the brink of being commercialized. The dream of household robots that assist in your day-to-day activities while you enjoy a nice cuppa, with a good book on your lounger might not be so far away. But then there's the nightmare of robots or programmes becoming military strategists, controlling the armies, the massive weapons of the world. How this would affect our world is anyone's guess. But, given the current context and the way things flow, it certainly might not be a pretty picture of the future.
(Contact this writer with your comments and criticism at [email protected])
- Power Play in Syria: What Turkish Moves Mean For US And Russia
- Houthis’ Ballistic Missiles Triggering Regional War Or Concealed Iranian Tests?
- Zuma’s Fall: Why is South Africa So Divided?
- Karuna backs SLPP, set to meet Rajapaksa this week MR must merge North and East - Karuna
- Cry Sis! Women insist on 25% quota
- Ban on Philippine workers in Kuwait Increases demand for Lankans Job agents told to seize opportunity
- Lasantha murder suspects re-remanded
- Conference on Disarmament UNSG welcomes SL’s decision
- No show in Court Warrant re-issued on Jaliya
- Lankan maid commits suicide in Kuwait
- SEUSL VC advises new intake
- Aranayake landslide victims Families still languish homeless
- Sivalingam resigns as CWC Chair Thondaman takes over
- Academics come out in support of Ranil
- EC Chair meets Speaker Proposes reforming LG law
- Active Liability Management Bill presented to Parliament
- Govt to initiate artificial rain generation Projects near hydropower plants
- Karu writes to Maldivian counterpart Requests intervention in Malé crisis
- Politicos pontificate on LG Polls result Opposition’s dream of toppling Govt failed – Rajitha Sampanthan accuses MR of racism
- Decision on future of Unity Govt UPFA awaits SC interpretation Thilanga confirms Prez seeking SC opinion on PM’s removal
- More electorates than members - PAFFREL
- Considering the country at large Pro-Sirisena faction to stay in Govt - SB Dissanayake Demand significant changes to power structure
- UNP vows to protect President won’t let jo own him
- UNPers to stand by Ranil
- Range Bandara quits as UNP Anamaduwa Organizer
- Black Caps coach rejects call to scrap T20
- Richmond in comprehensive win
- Arsenal announce record shirt deal with Emirates
- Olympics reels as ‘clean’ Russian curler hit by doping case
- Kandy SC too good for Airmen
- Red Stars SC emerge division I champions
- Hundreds participate in CISM Run
- Australia’s most-capped female player Blackwell retires
- Kohli limps off as India beat South Africa in first T20
- Kvitova takes Qatar title to clinch top 10 return
- Real Madrid win eight-goal thriller
- Watson’s wait ends with third Riviera triumph
- Coleman breaks 60m indoor world record
- Federer wins Rotterdam for 97th title
- No majority in Galle UC
- Federer on top of the world
- Man Utd into Cup quarters
- Cavani, Neymar key as PSG rebound from Madrid gloom
- Barca grind out victory before Chelsea trip
- Kvitova powers through to Qatar final
- Global interest in Hilton and Hyatt Colombo Hotels
- New rule for hiring SL domestics in UAE
- Cost of construction to go up by 7% - RIU
- DIMO mulls expansion in Cambodia and other ASEAN countries
- BOC appoints new GM/CEO
- Sri Lanka Tourism promotes niche products in India
- ‘Spot’ falls 35 cents to Rs 155.35/45
- Facebook told to stop tracking in Belgium
- Asia trades higher as markets in China on holiday
- Banking restrictions - major barrier to Iran trade relations
- Foreign exits from GSM top $50M
- Seylan Group reports Profit-After-Tax over Rs 5 B
- Huawei to participate at Mobile World Congress 2018
- Fairway Holdings vertical luxury high rise apartments - Elements
- Maha Shivarathri Pooja at Sri Lanka Insurance
- Emirates transports UAE’s first satellite
- Indian Bank ramping up overseas operations
- OPEC and Shale keep oil prices at $60-$75
- EU joins global growth bandwagon
- CHINT launches ‘CHINT POWER Series’ switches and sockets
- Subramanian Swamy’s love-hate relationship with Sri Lanka
- Tea, haircuts and fish bones Letting the light into Pakistan
- REVISITING SRI LANKA’S FOREIGN POLICY
- Howlers that wreck language
- Pursuing Peace The UN’s lack of accountability
- Current Marketing Practices Customer is King! Does it really apply to us?
- Writing project for young Syrian refugees
- The March of Folly A simple solution – Ranil goes
- Civil society group writes to EC, Speaker & Party Leaders DON’T default in implementing 25% quota for Women
- Give women more time to give birth, make choices - WHO
- President and PM are responsible for the election results
- Basil says…Await the return of ‘Spiritual Leader’ MR
- Rajapaksas’ Presidential hopeful is Gota
- Sins of the past Govt cannot be forgotten- Anura Kumara
- Law and order is quite weak
- Accomplice to the crime Our own indifference
- UK flower farm suspected of enslaving migrants
- Costly Renovation
- REV. PROF BELLANWILA WIMALARATANA THERA
- Why Masses Brought Victory to Past President
- White Sapphire absorbs the power of Venus
- Partial eclipse that occurred on Feb 16
- Effects of Sun in Aquarius
- Some recent impressions
- Bandula Nanayakkarawasam: From Galle to the world
- Pauline Kael: The critic wore cowboy boots
- Pauline Kael: The critic wore cow boy boots
- “Hail, Caesar!” Silliness as a virtue
- Notes on history: The thinkers and the doers
- Reflections on a nation of non-readers
- The Disaster Artist: The (un)making of a movie
- Kite Surfing Lanka Kalpitiya An experience of a lifetime
- Ella and mini Adam’s Peak
- A cave of history -Ravana Cave
- Never say never to anything!
- What’s In My Bag I want to carry my dog Ricky Ruchira
- Indian Elegance Raaya Clothing & Accessories
- Election promises that took people for a ride
- 7 killed in Florida school shooting by former student: sheriff
- Man with moustache who went to Rajarata a thousand times in a ramshackle Jeep