Could killer robots be the new weapon of choice for terrorists?

18th December 2017 11:58

 

Since the creation of intelligent robots, there have been worries over people losing their jobs to such inventions, due to their productivity levels, the fact that they give higher financial returns than humans do and that by using them companies do not have to deal with recruitment issues, pay demands and sickness.

However, there is a new worry among the AI community – killer robots.

The Lords Artificial Intelligence committee was formed to assess the impact of artificial intelligence on business and our society. With developments in driverless cars and other areas being reported daily, there is now a fear of what could happen if these developments were to fall into the wrong hands. The Lords committee was told how unlike previous eras, it is not the military pushing developments in AI; instead these strides are being made by the private sector. The main concern with this is that security is far more relaxed in the private sector than it would be for developments made by the military. 

There is a strong possibility that fully driverless cars will be available in the UK within the next five years. However, researchers have already demonstrated the ability to take control of the brakes and steering of driverless cars remotely. Therefore, it is not possible to guarantee that fully automated cars are secure against cyber-attacks. So, there is a strong possibility that fully automated cars and lorries could turn into the terrorists’ weapon of choice. In addition, this technology would leave the UK open to attack from foreign governments in cyberspace.

The French defence company, Thales, produces reconnaissance drones for the British Army. Their vice-president of research, Alvin Wilby recently said that the “genie is out of the bottle” regarding smart technology. Thales produces technology to combat drones, however, even their vice-president said there is a real possibility of attacks via “swarms” of miniature drones that could move with ease and choose targets with only a small amount of input from human beings.

Wilby told the Lords committee: "It's just a question of time and scale and I think that's an absolute certainty that we should worry about."

Noel Sharkey, an emeritus professional of artificial intelligence and robotics at the University of Sheffield told the Lords committee that he feared for “very bad copies” of the swarming drones currently being developed by the US and Chinese military.

Professor Sharkey, who is a spokesman for the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, told the Lords committee: “I don’t want to live in a world where war can happen in a few seconds accidentally and a lot of people die before anybody stops it.”

 

Sources:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-42153140

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/nov/26/the-rise-of-the-robots-brings-threats-and-opportunities

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  • Professor Sharkey, who is a spokesman for the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, told the Lords committee: “I don’t want to live in a world where war can happen in a few seconds accidentally and a lot of people die before anybody stops it."
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  • Professor Sharkey, who is a spokesman for the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, told the Lords committee: “I don’t want to live in a world where war can happen in a few seconds accidentally and a lot of people die before anybody stops it."
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