Warning about the risk of AI arms race

Amazon, Microsoft, and Intel are seemingly among the tech companies that are pushing the world into a dangerous arms race with the development of potentially destructive smart robots.

The Dutch non-governmental organization, Pax, has ranked around 50 technology companies on three criteria: whether they are developing technologies related to dangerous artificial intelligence (AI), whether they are developing relevant military projects and whether they are committed to not participating in the AI ​​arms race in the future. Among them, 22 were ranked as "medium concern", while 21 were rated "highly concern".

Amazon and Microsoft are looking to take part in the 10-billion USD project of the US Department of Defense to provide cloud computing infrastructure for the US military. In addition, Palantir, an enterprise connected to the investment organization backed by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), has received an 800-million USD contract to develop an AI system that can help soldiers analyze the battle area promptly.

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In recent years, the application of AI to allow weapons systems to automatically select and attack targets has become ethically controversial. Critics say the system will threaten international security and herald the third revolution in the war after guns and atomic bombs.

Mr. Stuart Russell, a professor in Computer Science at the University of California, Berkeley (USA), said automatic weapons will surely become weapons of mass destruction because an individual can "activate" millions, or even a hundred million weapons at the same time. Reality shows that corporations will research and develop automatic weapons, and it is these corporations that will play a big role in preventing automatic weapons from becoming popular.

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The development of AI for military purposes has caused controversy and opposition within the industry itself. Last year, Google refused to extend the Maven contract with the Pentagon which uses machines to distinguish people and objects in drone videos. Google also did not participate in bidding for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) project on cloud computing that Amazon and Microsoft want to take part in. In addition, Microsoft employees voiced their opposition to the contract of the company with the US military regarding virtual reality glasses - HoloLens - to increase the damage on the battlefield.

Professor Russell warned that all current weapons can be switched to the automatic version, from ordinary guns to tanks, fighters or submarines. In the future, the risk from military equipment such as armed drones is increasing. Therefore, he argued that the world should issue a ban on the use of AI for the purpose of damaging, in other words, banning the development, deployment, and use of intelligent machines that can think and make this decision.

In April, the European Union (EU) announced a set of guidelines to instruct companies and governments to develop AI for social and environmental prosperity without discrimination and with respect for personal rights.

By: Walter Smith

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