AI News, BOOK REVIEW: AI and Robotics Researchers Boycott South Korea Tech Institute Over Development of AI Weapons Technology

AI and Robotics Researchers Boycott South Korea Tech Institute Over Development of AI Weapons Technology

The press release for the ending of the boycott explained: “More than 50 of the world’s leading artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics researchers from 30 different countries have declared they would end a boycott of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), South Korea’s top university, over the opening of an AI weapons lab in collaboration with Hanwha Systems, a major arms company.

The boycott, organized by AI researcher Toby Walsh, was announced just days before the start of the next United Nations Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) meeting in which countries will discuss how to address challenges posed by autonomous weapons.  “At a time when the United Nations is discussing how to contain the threat posed to international security by autonomous weapons, it is regrettable that a prestigious institution like KAIST looks to accelerate the arms race to develop such weapons,” the boycott letter states.  The letter also explains the concerns AI researchers have regarding autonomous weapons: “If developed, autonomous weapons will be the third revolution in warfare.

Explaining the boycott, the letter states: “We therefore publicly declare that 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 Center will not develop autonomous weapons lacking meaningful human control.

We will, for example, not visit KAIST, host visitors from KAIST, or contribute to any research project involving KAIST.” In February, the Korean Times reported on the opening of the Research Center for the Convergence of National Defense and Artificial Intelligence, which was formed as a partnership between KAIST and Hanwha to “[join] the global competition to develop autonomous arms.” The Korean Times article added that “researchers from the university and Hanwha will carry out various studies into how technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution can be utilized on future battlefields.” In the press release for the boycott, Walsh referenced concerns that he and other AI researchers have had since 2015, when he and FLI released an open letter signed by thousands of researchers calling for a ban on autonomous weapons.

… But the consensus-based nature of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) in which these talks have been held means that even though the vast majority of states are ready and willing to take some kind of action now, they cannot because a minority opposes it.” Walsh adds, “I am hopeful that this boycott will add urgency to the discussions at the UN that start on Monday.

Leading AI researchers threaten Korean university with boycott over its work on ‘killer robots’

More than 50 leading AI and robotics researchers have said they will boycott South Korea’s KAIST university over the institute’s plans to help develop AI-powered weapons.

The threat was announced ahead of a UN meeting set in Geneva next week to discuss international restrictions on so-called “killer robots.” It marks an escalation in tactics from the part of the scientific community actively fighting for stronger controls on AI-controlled weaponry.

The boycott would forbid all contact and academic collaboration with KAIST until the university makes assurances that the weaponry it develops will have “meaningful human control.” The trigger for this action was KAIST’s announcement in February that it was launching a joint research center with South Korean defense company Hanwha Systems.

According to The Korean Times, the goal of the center is to “develop artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to be applied to military weapons” that would “search for and eliminate targets without human control.” But according to a report from Times Higher Education, KAIST’s president Sung-Chul Shin said he was “saddened” by the threatened boycott, and denies that the university is building autonomous weapon systems at all.

Boycott organizer Walsh told Times Higher Education he would need to consult with his co-signatories on what to do next, and added that KAIST’s response still left ”some questions unanswered.” KAIST’s partnership with Hanwha brings together two of the world’s leading robotics and military organizations.

Researchers to boycott South Korean university over AI weapons work

BERLIN (Reuters) - Over 50 top Artificial Intelligence researchers on Wednesday announced a boycott of KAIST, South Korea’s top university, after it opened what they called an AI weapons lab with one of South Korea’s largest companies.

The researchers, based in 30 countries, said they would refrain from visiting KAIST, hosting visitors from the university, or cooperating with its research programs until it pledged to refrain from developing AI weapons without “meaningful human control”.

KAIST, which opened the center in February with Hanwha Systems, one of two South Korean makers of cluster munitions, responded within hours, saying it had “no intention to engage in development of lethal autonomous weapons systems and killer robots.”

The university said the new Research Centre for the Convergence of National Defence and Artificial Intelligence would focus on using AI for command and control systems, navigation for large unmanned undersea vehicles, smart aircraft training and tracking and recognition of objects.

University boycott ends after KAIST confirms no 'killer robot' development

The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) has announced it will not be participating in the development of lethal autonomous weapons after it was revealed last week a group comprising over 50 international researchers would be boycotting all dealings with the South Korean university if it were to do so.

The boycott was announced last week, following reports KAIST was opening an artificial intelligence weapons lab in collaboration with Hanwha Systems, a defence company building cluster munitions despite United Nations bans, as well as a fully autonomous weapon, the SGR-A1 Sentry Robot.

'I was very pleased that the president of KAIST has agreed not to develop lethal autonomous weapons, and to follow international norms by ensuring meaningful human control of any AI-based weapon that will be developed,' said UNSW scientia professor of artificial intelligence Toby Walsh.

'At a time when the United Nations is discussing how to contain the threat posed to international security by autonomous weapons, it is regrettable that a prestigious institution like KAIST looks to accelerate the arms race to develop such weapons,' the letter sent to KAIST read.

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