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AI researchers call for boycott of "killer robot" university

847695350_564cb9526f_b Logan Ingalls, CC licence https://www.flickr.com/photos/plutor/847695350

Academics call for a snub:​

Artificial intelligence researchers from nearly 30 countries are boycotting a South Korean university over concerns a new lab in partnership with a leading defence company could lead to "killer robots".

More than 50 leading academics signed the letter calling for a boycott of Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) and its partner, defence manufacturer Hanwha Systems. The researchers said they would not collaborate with the university or host visitors from KAIST over fears it sought to "accelerate the arms race to develop" autonomous weapons.

"There are plenty of great things you can do with AI that save lives, including in a military context, but to openly declare the goal is to develop autonomous weapons and have a partner like this sparks huge concern," said Toby Walsh, the organiser of the boycott and a professor at the University of New South Wales. "This is a very respected university partnering with a very ethically dubious partner that continues to violate international norms."

Hanwha is one of South Korea's largest weapons manufacturers, and makes cluster munitions which are banned in 120 countries under an international treaty. South Korea, along with the US, Russia and China, are not signatories to the convention.

​There are obviously many universities who are working on AI-enabled robots for defence, but this is perhaps the loudest call for a while. Hanwha's products (if you can call them those) are clearly dubious to many countries, but given the constant, depressing, unrelenting demand for state-of-the-art weaponry, it's only a matter of time before this technology, by Hanwha or someone else, is deployed into a situation which doesn't want or need it.


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