Davos weighs pros and cons of letting AI robots make military decisions

Reminiscent of the sci-fi film Colossus: The Forbin Project (1970), this year’s Davos World Economic Forum held a round table discussion (sans table) to explore the question “What if autonomous weapon systems replace both soldiers and generals?”

The discussion was pretty interesting. At 23:06, Stewart Russell (computer scientist at UC Berkeley) mentions that the USA is the only country that has an official policy against autonomous weapons, and in that case only for a limited number of years:


At the end, painfully stupid questions from the audience (presumably mostly journalists) are taken, demonstrating how clueless the average person is likely to be at grasping the implications of these technological trends. Note the results of a poll taken of the forum audience, showing they overwhelmingly support the use of AI to make military decisions:

The picture above is a screenshot, not a playable video.
The picture above is a screenshot, not a playable video.

In Colossus: The Forbin Project, AI computers controlling the nuclear arsenals of both the USA and the USSR join forces to enslave humanity. Here’s the entire film, available for free on YouTube:

It’s the following morning (1/28) after I posted this, and Foreign Policy in Focus (published by the Institute for Policy Studies) just ran an article titled: When Robots Commit War Crimes, noting that “Existing laws hold neither the military nor computer companies and programmers accountable for the sins of robots.”

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