Use artificial intelligence to create rather than to kill, says AI pioneer

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By Cristina Abellan Matamoros  & James O'Hagan
Use artificial intelligence to create rather than to kill, says AI pioneer
Copyright  REUTERS/Dominick Reuter

From self-driving cars to Amazon’s Alexa, artificial intelligence is already here.

But some fear AI could be used to create killer robots.

Nobel Peace laureate Jody Williams is helping to lead a campaign for a new international treaty to prohibit lethal autonomous weapons, which select targets to fire without consultation from a human being.

Williams said at a news conference on Monday that killer robots "are crossing a moral and ethical Rubicon and should not be allowed to exist and be used in combat or in any other way".

While more and more governments are heavily investing in AI for military purposes — the Pentagon alone has pledged up to two billion dollars on AI research — Ben Goertzel, the man behind Sophia the Robot's brain, told Euronews that he hopes He hopes we use it for broadly beneficial applications like health, education.

“I have no illusion I'm going to stop the militaries of the world from developing autonomous weapons systems," he said.

"I prefer to focus my own energy on more obviously broadly beneficial AI applications.

"So my hope is that you know more and more of the human smarts in the AI field and of the AI smarts (boffins) will go to discovering new things, educating kids and curing disease,” he said.

“I hope we don't end up with a situation where most of the AI in the world is going into something like a ton of autonomous weapons although I'm sure that's going to be their human society being what it is.”

However, the AI expert pointed out that, in his view, advertising and surveillance rather than autonomous weaponry have been driving more of the AI research field.

Though, in his ideal world, AI would only be used in the "creative fields" such as science, maths, and arts.

Ultimately for Goertzel, AI should be about helping rather than destroying.

"What I think is more important is just to put more energy enthusiasm creativity and resources behind the more obviously beneficial applications and then you're sort of you're shifting where the centre of gravity of the human-AI interaction is."

In mid-November, the parties to the Convention on Conventional Weapons will be meeting in Geneva and they could agree to start negotiations on banning lethal weapons.