Jody Williams would love to sit down with Google cofounders Sergey Brin or Larry Page, if given the chance. Williams won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 for her work in banning anti-personnel landmines, and has taken that same fight to stopping killer robots with the appropriately-named Campaign to Stop Killer Robots.
“If I could sit down with Google people, I would want them to make a public pledge to not become involved with autonomous killer robots,” Williams said. “I also want some money from them.”
Google’s foray into the military-industrial complex is one thing. But when it comes to the march of military robotics, MIT physicist Max Tegmark thinks there’s a bigger precedent: the atomic bomb. Tegmark, whose Future of Life Institute recently got a cool $10 million donation from Elon Musk to launch of global research program aimed at ensuring tomorrow’s intelligent machines align with human interests, recalled those Manhattan Project scientists who were cut out of discussions over whether the US should deploy nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
For their part, Conner, Lattimer, and the dozens of engineering students and professionals working on ATLAS, ESCHER, and the nine other robots participating in the DARPA challenge have the best intentions: they say they’re building tools they hope will help humanity. One can only hope.
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Considering what we got from Obama ad-Dajjal, "one can only hope" is a rather depressing sentiment.
Dear Jody: Even if Google made such a public pledge, it would not prevent the development and deployment of autonomous killer robots. That decision already has been made.