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Oscar Williams

News editor

Elon Musk among 116 experts calling for UN ban on killer robots

Tesla’s Elon Musk and DeepMind’s Demis Hassabis are among more than 100 AI and robotics experts calling on the UN to ban killer robots.

The technologists warn in an open letter that lethal autonomous weapons could usher in “a third revolution in warfare”.

“These can be weapons of terror, weapons that despots and terrorists use against innocent populations, and weapons hacked to behave in undesirable ways,” the experts wrote.

“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,” they added.

The UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons had been due to meet on Monday for the first time, but the meeting has been postponed till November because some states haven’t paid their contributions.

The 116 experts said in the letter that they felt compelled to speak out because they were building technology that may be repurposed to develop autonomous weapons.

Elon Musk is one of the industry’s most outspoken critics of AI. He warned earlier this month that intelligent machines pose a far greater to threat to humanity than North Korea.

Last month, he entered into a war of words with Mark Zuckerberg. He accused the Facebook chief of possessing a limited understanding of AI after Zuckerberg said Musk’s remarks on the topic were “irresponsible”.

The risks associated with AI are gaining traction across Westminster.

The House of Lords earlier this summer formed a select committee focusing on the economic, social and ethical implications of the tech. The committee’s chair Tim Clement-Jones told NS Tech in July that AI is one the defining issues of the age.