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World alarm against robot-killers

South Korean University participates in a project for the development of autonomous weapons

Fifty Artificial Intelligence (AI) experts from thirty different countries have decided to stand against a project that aims at the development of autonomous weapons promoted by the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) and by Hanwha Systems, one of the major South-Korean arms' producer.

Against the project "National Defense and Artificial Intelligence Convergence Center", scientists began to boycott the university's activities and felt worried about a possible "third revolution" in military technology. According to experts, these weapons could become potential "terror instruments" capable of acting at a very high-speed and on an unprecedented scale in the hands of "despots and terrorists".

Autonomous weapons systems with declining levels of human control and armed drones are currently being developed by the Army in United States, China, Israel, South Korea, United Kingdom and Russia, and researchers fear that increasing advances in artificial intelligence can promote the production of non-human controlled weapons.

"Artificial intelligence should improve human life instead of destroying it", explain the luminaries who hope to curb the development of so-called killer robots. A few days before the meeting of the United Nations experts on Lethal and Autonomous Weapons (LAWS) that will take place on April 9th in Geneva, also the British Geoffrey Hinton, the Canadian Yoshua Bengio and the German Jurgen Schmidhuber have decided to hinder the South Korean university at least until it guarantees not to design autonomous weapons without substantial human controls.

The president of the university Sung-Chul Shin explained that the project would not include research work on weapons capable of violating ethical values and human dignity. Hanwha Systems, which has long been producing cluster munitions prohibited in 120 countries, has specified that the aim of the program is not to build killer weapons but to "remotely control technologies to reduce losses".

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