Posted on April 6, 2018 by staff

AI experts boycott university over ‘killer robots’ fear


A group of artificial intelligence (AI) researchers have called for the boycott of a South Korean university over fears that it plans to develop ‘killer robots’.

More than 50 scientists from 30 different countries have signed a letter expressing concern after Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology’s (KAIST) partnership with weapons manufacturer Hanwha Systems.

It was reported that the KAIST-Hanwha centre will develop “AI technologies to be applied to military weapons, joining the global competition to develop autonomous arms”.

KAIST is the school behind the advanced humanoid DRC-HUBO robot that won DARPA’s 2015 Robotics Challenge.

In the open letter, led by prominent AI scientist Toby Walsh, the researchers said they won’t visit KAIST or host visitors from the university until it vows to stop developing artificial intelligence (AI) weapons without “meaningful human control”.

The letter stated: “If developed, autonomous weapons will … permit war to be fought faster and at a scale great than ever before. They will have the potential to be weapons of terror.

“It is regrettable that a prestigious institution like KAIST looks to accelerate the arms race to develop such weapons.

“We therefore publicly declare that we will boycott all collaborations with any part of KAIST until such time as the President of KAIST provides assurances, which we have sought but not received, that the centre will not develop autonomous weapons lacking meaningful human control.”

KAIST president Sung-Chul Shin was quick to respond with his own statement.

“I would like to reaffirm that KAIST does not have any intention to engage in development of lethal autonomous weapons systems and killer robots,” he said.

“I reaffirm once again that KAIST will not conduct any research activities counter to human dignity including autonomous weapons lacking meaningful human control.”