International experts in artificial intelligence are worried about a partnership between a prestigious South Korean university and a controversial weapons maker, who could secretly develop killer robots.
57 experts and researchers in the field of artificial intelligence from 30 countries have decided to boycott any collaboration with a prestigious South Korean university, the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), on the grounds that one of its new labs has partnered with an arms manufacturer.
This collaboration leaves doubt about the making of killer robots or autonomous weapons.
The company in question, Hanwha Systems, is one of the leaders in the defense sector. For nearly 40 years, it has been manufacturing armored vehicles, missiles and missile launchers, mines and navigation systems … Its partnership with KAIST meets national security objectives.
The open letter signed by these researchers from around the world was published at the end of March. The signatories denounce the risks of this partnership. “You can achieve great things with artificial intelligence, even in a military context, but openly declaring that the goal is to create self-contained weapons and forging a partnership like this is a strong warning to us,” says researcher Toby Walsh at the University of Sydney quoted by The Guardian and signatory of the letter. In addition to the nature of the partnership, Hanwha Systems’ bad reputation is singled out. The company is accused of violating international standards since it produces fragmentation mines, even though they are banned from 120 countries around the world by various treaties.
KAIST announced with great fanfare on February 20th the opening of its Research Center for the Convergence of Homeland Security and Artificial Intelligence. It also set itself the ambition of developing reconnaissance and tracking technologies through connected objects and navigation systems based on artificial intelligence, as it explained in a message published on its website. In the face of controversy, KAIST has since withdrawn this announcement, leaving a blank page.
In a statement, KAIST President Sung-Chul Shin said that he was sorry to hear of a boycott movement: “I would like to reaffirm that KAIST does not intend to engage in the development of lethal autonomous weapon and killer robots.”