- The Washington Times - Monday, August 21, 2017

Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has joined a group of 116 founders of robotics and artificial intelligence companies in signing an open letter urging the United Nations to ban autonomous weapons.

“As companies building the technologies in Artificial Intelligence and Robotics that may be repurposed to develop autonomous weapons, we feel especially responsible in raising this alarm,” warns the open letter released Monday.

“Lethal autonomous weapons threaten to become the third revolution in warfare,” it continues. “Once developed, they will permit armed conflict to be fought at a scale greater than ever, and at timescales faster than humans can comprehend. These can be weapons of terror, weapons that despots and terrorists use against innocent populations, and weapons hacked to behave in undesirable ways.

“We do not have long to act,” the letter states. “Once this Pandora’s box is opened, it will be hard to close. We therefore implore the High Contracting Parties to find a way to protect us all from these dangers.”

The letter, which boasts signatories from companies spanning North America, Europe, Africa and Asia, was released the same day the U.N.’s Group of Governmental Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems was scheduled to discuss measures to protect the public from the misuse of automated weapons. That meeting, however, was postponed until November, The Los Angeles Times reported.

It echoed similar sentiments from an open letter signed by Mr. Musk in July 2015, which warned autonomous weapons could wind up “in the hands of terrorists, dictators wishing to better control their populace, warlords wishing to perpetrate ethnic cleansing, etc.”

According to an article published earlier this year by Human Rights Watch, more than a dozen countries are currently developing autonomous weapons systems, including the United States, China, Israel, South Korea, Russia, and the United Kingdom.

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