Skype Founding Engineer Warns Of A Skynet AI Arms Race And ‘Slaughterbot’ Future

hero robot using computer interface

Dire warnings from leaders in the area of AI technology continue to be voiced around the world. The latest comes from Jaan Tallinn, who founded two organizations, the Cambridge Centre for the Study of Existential Risk and the Future of Life Institute, to study and mitigate the risks of advancing AI technologies too quickly. In a recent interview, Tallin lets his opinion be heard about what he believes could be a real danger to humanity if leaders in the AI industry do not heed the warnings.

A founding engineer of Skype has sent out a warning that it might not be safe to go outside in the future due to the fear of being chased down by ‘swarms of slaughterbots.’ Jaan Tallinn’s reference comes from a 2017 short film called ‘Slaughterbots’, which was released by the Future of Life Institute, which he is a part of.

During his interview, Tallin remarked, “The reason that humans are in permanent control of this planet and not chimpanzees is that we are more intelligent than they are.” He continued to explain, “We are not stronger, but we know how to do long-term planning, etc. Now we as a species are in a race as a species to yield that advantage to machines, which the intuitions of people say is not a good idea.”

robot hand touching human hand

Tallin’s warnings go beyond the general fear many have right now of having AI replace them as workers, and extend to that of it being utilized by military forces throughout the world. He remarked, “Putting AI in the military makes it very hard for humanity to control AI’s trajectory, because at this point you are in a literal arms race.” He added, “When you’re in an arms race, you don’t have much maneuvering room when it comes to thinking about how to approach this new technology. You just have to go where the capabilities are and where the strategic advantage is.”

This comes at a time when tensions between major powers have escalated around the world. Tallinn does, however, believe that it is not too late to slow the transition of AI into the military, much like has been done with bioweaponry.

The fear of an automated army of drones and humanoid robots has been fantasized in Hollywood movies for some time. Tallin notes, “The natural evolution for fully automated warfare is swarms of miniaturized drones that anyone with money can produce and release without attribution.”

When asked about his position when it comes to when humanity should take a pause with advancing AI technology, Tallin remarked, “I think the correct position to take here is that as soon as we cannot rule out that we will remain in control for a long time, we should take necessary precautions to make sure either we remain in control, or if we lose control, the future will still be good for us.”

The tough question remains of if now is that time in history. The interview with Tallin can be viewed in its entirety via the Aljazeera website.

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