Artificial intelligence researchers from nearly 30 countries are boycotting a South Korean university over concerns a new lab in partnership with a leading defence company could lead to "killer robots". More than 50 leading academics signed the letter calling for a boycott of Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) and its partner, defence manufacturer Hanwha Systems. The researchers said they would not collaborate with the university or host visitors from KAIST over fears it sought to "accelerate the arms race to develop" autonomous weapons. "There are plenty of great things you can do with AI that save lives, including in a military context, but to openly declare the goal is to develop autonomous weapons and have a partner like this sparks huge concern," said Toby Walsh, the organiser of the boycott and a professor at the University of New South Wales. "This is a very respected university partnering with a very ethically dubious partner that continues to violate international norms."
An autonomous sentry freezes an "intruder" during a 2006 test of the weapons system by the South Korean military. Fifty-seven scientists from 29 countries have called for a boycott of a top South Korean university because of a new center aimed at using artificial intelligence (AI) to bolster national security. The AI scientists claim the university is developing autonomous weapons, or "killer robots," whereas university officials say the goal of the research is to improve existing defense systems. A web page that has since been removed by the university said the center, to be operated jointly with South Korean defense company Hanwha Systems, would work on "AI-based command and decision systems, composite navigation algorithms for mega-scale unmanned undersea vehicles, AI-based smart aircraft training systems, and AI-based smart object tracking and recognition technology." Toby Walsh, a computer scientist at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, who organized the boycott, fears that the research will be applied to autonomous weapons, which can include unmanned flying drones or submarines, cruise missiles, autonomously operated sentry guns, or battlefield robots.
The wife of a missing man who was located by a police drone up to his armpits in mud said it was "a miracle" he was found alive. A major search was launched for Peter Pugh, 75, from Brancaster, Norfolk, after he disappeared following a beach walk on Saturday at 17:10 BST. It was only when the drone was sent up that Mr Pugh was spotted in a muddy creek at Titchwell Marshes on Sunday. Police said the technology was key to their rescue operation. Mr Pugh's wife Felicity said her husband, who is still in hospital in King's Lynn with hypothermia, was "slightly bemused" by what had happened.