Stop autonomous weapons – do not endanger humanity

February 1st, 2021
Stop autonomous weapons – do not endanger humanity
(Mary Wareham is  ending her coordinatorship of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots)
 
 
Dear Mary, dear all
 
That is a sad news since you did a fantastic and focused journey on one of essential  human issues. I had a pleasure to meet Mary for a couple of days and it was indeed fascinating and enlightening to share some discussions.
 
When Bill Gates years ago warned that there are existential civilization dangers and infections among them, nobody took him seriously. For years discussing autonomous weapons with decision-makers in Slovenia, nobody took me seriously although they showed respect for the research institutions that I come from. It seems that politicians are simply not aware of the dangers autonomous weapons present for the progress of human civilization. Although an AI department, we started a small research on the longevity of the human civilization. So far we published 3 conference papers and a journal paper is yet to come. But the results are conclusive – human civilization will most likely last from 1000 to 10.000 years. The probability to last longer, even to a million years exists, but is close to 0. We calculated this probability density in time due to the absence of aliens inside our vision range and it does not relate to any concrete issue such as pandemic or global warming. However, I find autonomous weapons certainly inside the 10 existential dangers. Other researchers often mention super AI, but without autonomous weapons the AI danger seems minuscules.
 
Another common misconception is that advanced Western countries can not cope with demographic danger from other blocks. First, the demographic has stalled worldwide with a couple of countries in Africa as exceptions. Second, we can add intelligence and passive autonomy in the way that it enables advanced power and at the same time avoid the negative aspects of autonomous weapons. Unfortunately, not many are listening.
 
Two final thoughts: time will prove Mary Wareham one of the greatest visionaries and fighters for human civilization.
Second: however sad that Mary is taking the very deserved brake, the movement needs to go on.
 
Best regards
Prof. Dr. Matjaž Gams
Head of dept of intelligent systems at the Jozef Stefan Institute
Co-founder of various societies in Slovenia, including for AI, cognitive science and Slovenian Academy of Engineering
National councilor for science (second house of parliament)

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