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By 5 April 2018 | Categories: news

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Some people just want to watch the world burn, even if they are academics it seems. A report from the Guardian states that artificial intelligence researchers are taking a stand against a South Korean university, which is working on “killer robots” with a defence manufacturer.

Apparently The Terminator movie plots got lost in translations, since the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST)  more than happy to partner with defence manufacture Hanwha Systems in building autonomous weapons. This has lead to more than 50 AI researchers from across the globe signing a letter to boycott KAIST, by not working with them or hosting employees from the university.  

Professor at the University of New South Wales, Toby Walsh is leading the charge, claiming that, “There are plenty of great things you can do with AI that saves 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.”

According the Guardian, Hanwha Systems is a major player in the arms industry, manufacturing amongst others cluster munitions, banned in 120 countries, although not in South Korea, Russia, China and the States.

KAIST’s president, Sung-Chul Shin is not too happy about the boycott as one can imagine, noting, “I would like to reaffirm that KAIST does not have any intention to engage in development of lethal autonomous weapons systems and killer robots.” This sounds much like a statement released by Lex Luthor’s corporation, especially with the phrase “killer robots” in the announcement. Shin did not state that they will end the partnership.

Nonetheless, there will be a United Nations meeting in Geneva next week, where autonomous weapons will be further discussed. More than 20 countries stand behind a call for a total ban on killer robots, although autonomous killer drones fly freely around places such as Afghanistan.

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