Elon Musk and Hun­dreds of AI Experts Call for Ban on Killer Robots’


An open letter by experts from leading AI and Robotics companies worldwide has appealed to the UN to ban the use of lethal autonomous weapons — also known as ‘Killer Robots’.

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An open letter signed by 116 experts belonging to robotics and artificial intelligence companies from 26 countries at the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI) has moved to urge the UN to take immediate steps to curb the use of robots in the arms race.

A ‘Killer Robot’ is defined as an autonomous weapon system that is capable of identifying and engaging a target without any human intervention required. While the tech is still in development, many are moving against it.

Canada’s Clearpath Robotics was the first company to appeal for a ban on the automated weapons controlled by AI and now 115 more company leaders have joined the race against Killer Robots.

“Autonomous weapons systems are on the cusp of development right now and have a very real potential to cause significant harm to innocent people along with global instability,” said Ryan Gariepy, founder & CTO of Clearpath Robotics, who was also the first to sign.

“The development of lethal autonomous weapons systems is unwise, unethical and should be banned on an international scale,” he added.

The first letter which was released in 2015 at the IJCAI in Buenos Aires was endorsed by British physicist Stephen Hawking, Apple  Co-founder Steve Wozniak and cognitive scientist Noam Chomsky, among others. The letter warned about the danger of autonomous weapons.

“Lethal autonomous weapons threaten to become the third revolution in warfare,” the recent letter states. “Once developed, they will permit armed conflict to be fought on a scale greater than ever, and at timescales faster than humans can comprehend.

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The signatories of the 2017 letter include but not limited to:

  • Elon Musk, founder of Tesla, SpaceX, and OpenAI (USA)
  • Mustafa Suleyman, founder and Head of Applied AI at Google’s DeepMind (UK)
  • Esben Ostergaard, founder and CTO of Universal Robotics (Denmark)
  • Jerome Monceaux, founder of Aldebaran Robotics, makers of Nao and Pepper robots (France)
  • Jurgen Schmidhuber, leading deep learning expert and founder of Nnaisense (Switzerland)
  • Yoshua Bengio, leading deep learning expert and founder of Element AI (Canada)

“These can be weapons of terror, weapons that despots and terrorists use against innocent populations, and weapons hacked to behave in undesirable ways,” the letter adds.

“We do not have long to act. Once this Pandora’s box is opened, it will be hard to close,” it states, concluding with an urgent plea for the UN “to find a way to protect us all from these dangers.”

Signatories of the 2017 letter from India:

  • Fahad Azad, founder of Robotsoft Systems
  • Debashis Das, Ashish Tupate, Jerwin Prabu, founders (incl. CEO) of Bharati Robotics
  • Pranay Kishore, founder and CEO of Phi Robotics Research
  • Pulkit Gaur, founder and CTO of Gridbots Technologies
  • Shahid Memom, founder and CTO of Vanora Robots
  • Krishnan Nambiar and Shahid Menon, founder, CEO, and CTO of Vanora Robotics
  • Achu Wilson, founder and CTO of Sastra Robotics

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Bike enthusiast, traveller, ManUtd follower, army brat, word-smith; Delhi University, Asian College of Journalism, Cardiff University alumnus; a journalist breathing tech these days.