GLOBAL EXPERTS have condemned South Korean researchers for teaming up with a defence company to study the possibility of ‘killer robots'.
An open letter signed by over 50 academics calls for a boycott of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) and its gun-toting partner Hanwha Systems.
In it, they talk of KAIST's desire to accelerate the autonomous weapons arms race, and that they plan to boycott collaboration and hosting of KAIST scientists.
"There are plenty of great things you can do with AI that save lives, including in a military context, but to openly declare the goal is to develop autonomous weapons and have a partner like this sparks huge concern," Toby Walsh, a professor at the University of New South Wales told the Guardian.
"This is a very respected university partnering with a very ethically dubious partner that continues to violate international norms."
Hanwha makes cluster munitions. banned in 120 countries, and as such is instantly disliked by AI professors for sullying the good name of their research.
A UN meeting about autonomous weapons is taking place in the next week and is likely to see upwards of 20 countries calling for an outright ban on killer robots.
KAIST denies that it plans to develop killer robots, in spite of appearances, with president Sung-Chul Shin saying:
"As an academic institution, we value human rights and ethical standards to a very high degree,
"I reaffirm once again that KAIST will not conduct any research activities counter to human dignity including autonomous weapons lacking meaningful human control."
He does not explain, however, why the Hanwha tie-up is necessary at all, if the intentions are benign.
The recently departed Professor Stephen Hawking was one of many theorists that believe that there is a genuine risk of a "Skynet" type rise of the machines if research isn't conducted in an appropriate manner. µ
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