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AI, Robotic Tech Firms Ask UN to Help Prevent Autonomous Weapon Misuse

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Executives from several robotics and artificial intelligence companies in 26 countries have signed an open letter to the United Nations warning against the potential destabilizing effects of lethal autonomous weapons.

Signatories told UN’s Conference of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons in the letter published Monday that terrorists and despots may use repurposed autonomous weapons to harm innocent populations or hack the devices to behave in harmful ways.

The industry executives urged the UN-formed Group of Governmental Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems to help identify strategies to prevent an autonomous weapons arms race and safeguard civilians from misuse of the systems.

“Lethal autonomous weapons threaten to become the third revolution in warfare,” the letter states.

“Once developed, they will permit armed conflict to be fought at a scale greater than ever, and at timescales faster than humans can comprehend.”

The letter’s signatories include Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Motor; Antoine Biondeau, CEO of Sentient Technologies; and Brian Gerkey, CEO of Open Source Robotics.

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