November 15, 2017

Should we fear killer robots?

By Paul Scharre

Physicist Stephen Hawking recently warned of the dangers of artificial intelligence and "powerful autonomous weapons." Autonomous technology is racing forward, but international discussions on managing the potential risks are already underway.

This week, nations enter the fourth year of international discussions at the United Nations on lethal autonomous weapons, or what some have called "killer robots." The UN talks are oriented on future weapons, but simple automated weapons to shoot down incoming missiles have been widely used for decades.

The same computer technology that powers self-driving cars could be used to power intelligent, autonomous weapons.

Recent advances in machine intelligence are enabling more advanced weapons that could hunt for targets on their own. Earlier this year, Russian arms manufacturer Kalashnikov announced it was developing a "fully automated combat module" based on neural networks that could allow a weapon to "identify targets and make decisions."

Whether or not Kalashnikov's claims are true, the underlying technology that will enable self-targeting machines is coming.

Read the full op-ed in CNN.

View All Reports View All Articles & Multimedia