WORLD superpowers are engaged in a feverish "arms race" to develop the first killer robots completely removed from human control, the Sun Online can reveal. These machines will mark a dramatic escalation in computer AI from the drones and robots currently in use, all of which still require a human to press the "kill button". In a series of exclusive interviews, leading experts told The Sun Online machines making life or death decisions will likely be developed within the next 10 years. Fears are now growing about the implications of creating such smart machines, as are concerns they will fall into the hands of terrorist groups such as ISIS. Locked in this new race for military supremacy is Britain, the US, China, Russia and Israel – all of which have robot programmes of varying advancement.
Allowing machines to select and target humans sounds like something out of an apocalyptic sci-fi movie. But as we enter another decade, it is becoming increasingly obvious that we're teetering on the edge of that dangerous threshold. Countries including China, Israel, South Korea, Russia and the United States are already developing and deploying precursors to fully autonomous weapons, such as armed drones that are piloted remotely. These countries are investing heavily in military applications of artificial intelligence with the goal of gaining a technological advantage in next-generation preparedness for the battlefield. These killer robots, once activated, would select and engage targets without further human intervention.
Conventional wisdom decrees that this dual-track approach isn't sustainable, and that low- to middle-skilled workers will eventually make way for robots. A landmark 2013 study by Carl Frey and Michael Osborne of Oxford University suggests that, in the coming decades, 47% of total US employment will be at risk of automation. Similarly, the International Labour Organization (ILO) has warned that 56% of total employment in Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam is "at high risk of displacement due to technology over the next decade or two."
Chinese workers have seen the future, and it involves artificial intelligence, robots, and other forms of automation replacing them, at least for repetitive tasks. That's how workers responded to interviews about the future of work (pdf) conducted in 13 countries by the ADP Research Institute, part of the payroll systems company ADP. In contrast to China, a minority of workers in Germany think machines will take over repetitive tasks in the future. Workers in Chile, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and France among other countries agree. But American workers and those in India are inclined to see things the Chinese way; nearly two-thirds of those polled said they thought the machines were coming for repetitive work.
From the risk of mass unemployment to the deployment of autonomous robotics by criminal organisations or rogue states, the new Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics has been set the goal of second-guessing the possible threats. It is estimated that 30% of jobs in Britain are potentially under threat from breakthroughs in artificial intelligence, according to the consultancy firm PwC. In some sectors half the jobs could go. A recent study by the International Bar Association claimed robotics could force governments to legislate for quotas of human workers. Meanwhile nations seeking to develop autonomous weapons technology, with the capability to independently determine their courses of action without the need for human control, include the US, China, Russia and Israel.