Killer robots are coming, and Elon Musk is worried

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Dozens of AI-focused technology executives, including Tesla CEO Elon Musk, are urging a United Nations working group to push forward with a plan to ban killer robots.

“Lethal autonomous weapons threaten to become the third revolution in warfare,” the group of CEOs and CTOs wrote in an open letter organized by the Future of Life Institute and released Sunday. “Once developed, they will permit armed conflict to be fought at a scale greater than ever, and at timescales faster than humans can comprehend. These can be weapons of terror, weapons that despots and terrorists use against innocent populations, and weapons hacked to behave in undesirable ways.”

It’s easy to imagine the potential nightmare scenarios here. You only have to think about the Terminator‘s Skynet, or that Star Trek: The Next Generation episode where Enterprise crew members are hunted down by an automated weapons system that turns out to be a sales demo by a long-defunct arms merchant.

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