Sunday, 26 July 2015

A New Arms Race Looming?

As a Cold War kid of the 80s, i look back at that time and think it wasn't so bad, the idea of Mutually Assured Destruction was a comfort which kept the nukes in their silo's and we had great songs like Two Tribes and Two Minutes to Midnight.
Sure we had to watch public information films telling us the way to stay safe in the case of a Nuclear War was to turn the sofa upside down and crawl underneath it but although the chances of the Cold War becoming a hot one was remote, if it did the Earth would be lifeless now except for cockroaches.
Thankfully the threat of nuclear war has diminished and the arms race has died down but we could be on the cusp of another one, this time with artificial-intelligence-based autonomous weapons.
Such luminaries as Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking have signed a letter warning against the dangers of starting a global arms race of artificial intelligence technology unless the United Nations supports a ban on weapons that humans 'have no meaningful control over'.
The letter was presented at the International Joint Conference On Artificial Intelligence in Argentina and explains that: 'If any major military power pushes ahead with AI weapon development, a global arms race is virtually inevitable, and the endpoint of this technological trajectory is obvious: autonomous weapons will become the Kalashnikovs of tomorrow'.
The risks, the signatories say, could be far greater than those posed by nuclear weapons.  
As the history of the human race has been one stupid decision after the other i'm sure the warnings will be dismissed and drones are just the beginning of the latest wheeze to kill us all and this time we won't have the background music of Frankie Goes To Hollywood to soothe us as a robot with face recognition software kicks down the wrong door and blows up an innocent family at the dining table.

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