More than 50 leading AI and robotics researchers have joined a boycott of South Korea’s KAIST university over the institute’s plans to help develop AI-powered weapons. The boycott was announced ahead of a UN meeting set in Geneva next week to discuss international restrictions on so-called “killer robots.” It marks an escalation in tactics from the part of the scientific community actively fighting for stronger controls on AI-controlled weaponry.
The boycott was organized by Professor Toby Walsh of the University of New South Wales, who warned in a press statement that the race to build autonomous weapons had already begun. “We can see prototypes of autonomous weapons under development today by many nations including the US, China, Russia, and the UK,” said Walsh. “We are locked into an arms race that no one wants to happen. KAIST’s actions will only accelerate this arms race. We cannot tolerate this.”
Signatories of the boycott include some of world’s leading AI researchers, most notably professors Geoffrey Hinton, Yoshua Bengio, and Jürgen Schmidhuber. The boycott forbids all contact and academic collaboration with KAIST until the university makes assurances that the weaponry it develops will have “meaningful human control.”