Boycott against Korean uni ‘killer robots’

By AAP Newswire

A South Korean university's move to create "killer robots" for the arms industry has sparked alarm among artificial intelligence and robotics researchers across the world.

More than 50 researchers from 30 countries will boycott all contact with Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology when it opens its artificial intelligence weapons lab with major arms company Hanwha Systems.

The centre's aim is reportedly to "develop artificial intelligence technologies to be applied to military weapons, joining the global competition to develop autonomous arms".

The boycott will be announced on Thursday ahead of a 123-member United Nations meeting in Geneva on Monday to discuss the robot arms race.

Twenty-two of the nations want an outright and pre-emptive ban on the "killer robots".

"We will boycott all collaborations with any part of KAIST until such time as the president of KAIST provides assurances, which we have sought but not received, that the centre will not develop autonomous weapons lacking meaningful human control," the letter states.

"If developed, autonomous weapons will be the third revolution in warfare. They will permit war to be fought faster and at a scale greater than ever before.

"They have the potential to be weapons of terror."

One of Australia's leading AI experts, Professor Toby Walsh at the University of NSW, organised the boycott and published open letters in 2015 and 2017 to warn of the dangers of these robots.

"That arms race has begun. We can see prototypes of autonomous weapons under development today by many nations including the US, China, Russia and the UK," he said.

"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."