According to recent letters that were sent to the International Joint Conference on Artifical Intelligence in Buenos Aires on the 27th of July 2015, both Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk have urged that there be a global ban on the use of autonomous weapons, which the scientists warned would be paramount to the revolutionary discovery of weaponry such as nuclear arms or gunpowder when their use first began around the seventeenth century.
Hawking warned that the deployment of robots who were capable of killing all on their own, would be sure to begin within years as opposed to decades. He further stated that it was very likely that if development of military robots was not brought to a halt it would not be soon before the autonomous weapons could end up in the hands of people such as warlords or terrorists.
Hawking noted that the dangers of using autonomous weapons were many; with drones for instance, somebody who can pilot the drone and make targeting decisions is required; with autonomous weapons on the other hand, they are more than able to target people on their own; entire populations could be wiped out within seconds in this way. Furthermore, autonomous weapons need raw materials which can easily be obtained in stark contrast to nuclear weapons; this means that there are more and more chances of military powers producing autonomous weapons as compared to nuclear weapons in the near future.
Elon Musk who is the head of SpaceX has stated that artificial intelligence is humanity’s ‘biggest existential threat’ and that even though it is probably the biggest event that has ever occurred in human history there are also high chances that it is ironically the last great event that will ever occur in human history.
Both Musk and Hawking note that while there are high chances of how robotics could do good for humankind by being the swiftest way to prevent the mitigation of disease or by disallowing people in war-torn areas to continue suffering by providing them with food and shelter, the fact is that when we combine military tactics with robotics, the danger begins.