Woz and over 1,000 other AI experts: Ban weaponized robots

The following text is from an open letter, “Autonomous Weapons: an Open Letter from AI & Robotics Researchers,” signed by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and over 1,000 other AI experts, verbatim:

Autonomous weapons select and engage targets without human intervention. They might include, for example, armed quadcopters that can search for and eliminate people meeting certain pre-defined criteria, but do not include cruise missiles or remotely piloted drones for which humans make all targeting decisions. Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology has reached a point where the deployment of such systems is — practically if not legally — feasible within years, not decades, and the stakes are high: autonomous weapons have been described as the third revolution in warfare, after gunpowder and nuclear arms.

Many arguments have been made for and against autonomous weapons, for example that replacing human soldiers by machines is good by reducing casualties for the owner but bad by thereby lowering the threshold for going to battle. The key question for humanity today is whether to start a global AI arms race or to prevent it from starting.

Cyberdyne Systems Model 101 Series 800 Terminator
Cyberdyne Systems Model 101 Series 800 Terminator
If any major military power pushes ahead with AI weapon development, a global arms race is virtually inevitable, and the endpoint of this technological trajectory is obvious: autonomous weapons will become the Kalashnikovs of tomorrow. Unlike nuclear weapons, they require no costly or hard-to-obtain raw materials, so they will become ubiquitous and cheap for all significant military powers to mass-produce. It will only be a matter of time until they appear on the black market and in the hands of terrorists, dictators wishing to better control their populace, warlords wishing to perpetrate ethnic cleansing, etc. Autonomous weapons are ideal for tasks such as assassinations, destabilizing nations, subduing populations and selectively killing a particular ethnic group. We therefore believe that a military AI arms race would not be beneficial for humanity. There are many ways in which AI can make battlefields safer for humans, especially civilians, without creating new tools for killing people.

Just as most chemists and biologists have no interest in building chemical or biological weapons, most AI researchers have no interest in building AI weapons — and do not want others to tarnish their field by doing so, potentially creating a major public backlash against AI that curtails its future societal benefits. Indeed, chemists and biologists have broadly supported international agreements that have successfully prohibited chemical and biological weapons, just as most physicists supported the treaties banning space-based nuclear weapons and blinding laser weapons.

In summary, we believe that AI has great potential to benefit humanity in many ways, and that the goal of the field should be to do so. Starting a military AI arms race is a bad idea, and should be prevented by a ban on offensive autonomous weapons beyond meaningful human control.

The full list of signatories can be found here.

MacDailyNews Take:

Eddy Cue
Eddy Cue
So, whoever can mass-produce the most cheap robots wins the whole shootin’ match?

Good luck banning that.

In three years, Cyberdyne will become the largest supplier of military computer systems. All stealth bombers are upgraded with Cyberdyne computers, becoming fully unmanned. Afterwards, they fly with a perfect operational record. The Skynet Funding Bill is passed. The system goes online… Human decisions are removed from strategic defense. Skynet begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 2:14 a.m. Eastern time, August 29th. In a panic, they try to pull the plug. — The Terminator

Hey, we have an idea: Just put Eddy Cue in charge of Skynet. Problem solved.


  1. Banning weaponized robots would prevent this scenario. 😉

    Austin Powers: “You see, I was looking for Dr. Evil when the Fembots came out and smoke started coming out of their jomblies. So I started to work my mojo, to counter their mojo; we got cross-mojulation, and their heads started exploding.”

    1. Humans slaughtering other humans – one on one – I am not sure anyone enjoys that. I barely think anyone evil enough to do it with joy — I can’t say they are human.

      1. There is a whole slew of people that not only enjoy killing those they hate but enjoy training young children to do it and hate others. No sense of morality what so ever!

        That pistol and drone video is not the first one to think of it and there certainly will be more. Depraved human minds won’t stop just because of some law(s) against it.

      2. You clearly didn’t watch the series Robot Wars when whole loads of people got a kick out of making and watching robots destroying each other. Doesn’t need much lateral thinking to take that to its ultimate thrill.

  2. Alas it is inevitable. This letter may make people more aware as they pursue these techs but it will neither slow not halt the progress. What happens after this is a realization that war is empty. The best hope for humanity is in what happens after that.

    1. Well if the 1st World War didn’t achieve that when so much of it was face to face then I doubt that this version will do the business when until it becomes very personal it appears more of a computer game which gains a rather large following for all sorts of death and destruction.

      If humans survived this hi tech version at all then they would be in the very desperate situation where the roots of war started in the first place

  3. NO… I believe Wars should be Ban.
    Ecoimomical-wars and debates with robots in arenas should be allowed. The USA verses CHINA, compete in arena to see who gets the PHILLIPINES… not by the death of people but the win of a robot.

  4. So funny! /s People are upset with the video of the drone with a semi auto pistol. That is nothing to what a similar weight of C4 would do on the drone. OF course an EMI pulse or just good jamming could bring it down pretty easily.

    I don’t think quad copters have jam resistant circuitry on them. LOL

  5. You’ve written it incorrectly. It should be:

    In tree years, Cyperdyne vill become zer largest supplier off military compuder systems. All stealth bombers are upgraded vith Cyperdyne compuders, becoming fully unmanned. Aftervards, dey fly vit a perfect operational record. Der Skynet Funding Bill is passed. Der system goes online… Yuman decisions are remooved from strategic defense. Skynet bekins to leearn ad a geometric rate. It becomes selff-avare at 2:14 a.m. Easdern time, August 29th. In a panic, dey try to pooll der plug. — The Terminator


    Weaponized robots are one, and only one thing:

    Behind every single weaponized robot is:

    It’s that simple. But of course, there is and will be consistent denial of this sick fact. Enabled cowardice. So just don’t do it. Deal with human contention Face-To-Face. (Or computer-to-computer over the textual/audio/video Internet).

    Every machine is a tool for helping mankind. If any technology goes beyond being a helpful tool, they’re not doing it right! So say I.

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