(TNS) — REDWOOD CITY, Calif. — San Mateo County is poised to take a stand against what one official views as a looming threat: killer robots.
On Tuesday, Supervisor David Canepa plans to ask the Board of Supervisors to approve a resolution that calls on Congress and the United Nations to restrict the development and use of autonomous weapons.
“Killer robots are no longer just the stuff of science fiction,” Canepa said. “In fact, rapid advances in artificial intelligence and robotics could lead to humans giving up control of lethal force decisions in the very near future. That should be absolutely frightening to all of us.
“No robot or machine should be able to make life or death decisions on its own,” he added.
No other county has approved such a resolution.
The resolution follows the November release of “Slaughterbots,” a video by UC Berkeley computer science professor Stuart Russell and the Future of Life Institute depicting a future in which swarms of small affordable drones kill with little human input.
“This short film is more than just speculation; it shows the results of integrating and miniaturizing technologies that we already have,” Russell warns at the end of the nearly 8-minute video, the release of which coincided with the first formal United Nations conference dedicated to preventing the creation and use of autonomous weapons.
Russell co-authored an open letter calling for a ban on killer robots. It was reportedly signed by 3,462 artificial intelligence and robotics researchers, including Dr. Todd Davies of Stanford University, and another 18,909 individuals, including Tesla founder Elon Musk, theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.
Canepa sought Russell’s guidance in crafting the resolution. In a letter expressing his “strong support” for the resolution, Russell said autonomous weapons “present a major threat to humanity because they will constitute scalable weapons of mass destruction.
They will reduce human security at the individual, local, national and international levels,” he said.
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