Keelvar CEO, Alan Holland, has signed an open letter along with 116 founders of leading robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) companies, including Elon Musk of Tesla, that urges the United Nations to urgently address the challenge of lethal autonomous weapons (often called ‘killer robots’) and ban their use internationally.Toby Walsh, Scientia Professor of AI at UNSW in Sydney, released it at the opening of the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI 2017) in Melbourne, the world’s pre-eminent gathering of experts in AI and robotics. The open letter is the first time that AI and robotics companies have taken a joint stance on the issue. Previously, only a single company, Canada’s Clearpath Robotics, had formally called for a ban on lethal autonomous weapons."A special focus of this conference are the technical, legal, social and other challenges posed by autonomy especially in areas like the battlefield.As companies and institutes building the technologies in Artificial Intelligence and Robotics that will be central to the development of autonomous weapons,we feel especially responsible in raising this alarm. We warmly welcome the decision of the Conference of the Convention on CertainConventional Weapons to establish a Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems which meets today for the firsttime at the United Nations in Geneva. Many of our researchers and engineers are eager to offer technical advice to your deliberations.We commend the appointment of Ambassador Amandeep Singh Gill of India as chair of the GGE. We entreat the High Contracting Parties at the meeting towork hard at finding means to prevent an arms race in these weapons, to protect civilians from their misuse, and to avoid the destabilizing effects of thesetechnologies.Lethal autonomous weapons threaten to become the third revolution in warfare. Once developed, they will permit armed conflict to be fought at a scale greaterthan ever, and at timescales faster than humans can comprehend. These can be weapons of terror, weapons that despots and terrorists use against innocentpopulations, 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.We therefore implore the High Contracting Parties to find a way to protect us all from these dangers."
OPEN LETTER ON AUTONOMOUS WEAPONS released at the start of the main international conference on Artificial Intelligence, IJCAI 2017 in Melbourne, Australia.