Musk, tech experts want U.N. to ban killer robots

Brett Molina
Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, appears during the International Space Station Research and Development Conference on July 19, 2017.

A group of technology experts including Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is warning the United Nations about the potential threat posed by autonomous weapons.

In an open letter addressed to the U.N.'s Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, 116 founders and CEOs of robotics and artificial intelligence companies want the "killer robot" weapons banned.

"These can be weapons of terror, weapons that despots and terrorists use against innocent populations, and weapons hacked to behave in undesirable ways," reads a portion of the letter. "We do not have long to act. Once this Pandora’s box is opened, it will be hard to close."

The letter was posted by the Future of Life Institute, an organization focused on ensuring "tomorrow’s most powerful technologies are beneficial for humanity."

The group of experts who signed the letter applauded the U.N. for creating a Group of Governmental Experts to consider lethal autonomous weapon systems. Their first meeting, originally slated for Monday, has been rescheduled for November.

"The number of prominent companies and individuals who have signed this letter reinforces our warning that this is not a hypothetical scenario, but a very real, very pressing concern which needs immediate action,” said Ryan Gariepy, founder & CTO of Clearpath Robotics, one of the robotics leader to sign the letter. 

Musk has been vocal about concerns surrounding humanity's use of artificial intelligence (AI), fearing the technology could be used for questionable reasons. 

Most recently, Musk tweeted concerns about AI safety were a greater risk than the threat of nuclear war with North Korea. Musk is urging government to enact regulations to get ahead of any threats.

"Nobody likes being regulated, but everything (cars, planes, food, drugs, etc) that's a danger to the public is regulated," said Musk on Twitter. "AI should be too."

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