The short video “Slaughterbots”, has gone viral and garnered thousands and thousands of views in a matter of days. The video clip is a joint project between the University of California at Berkeley computer science professor Stuart Russell and the Future of Life Institute shows swarms of drones executing precisions attacks on human beings. According to Russell, this video shows a possible future if we don’t act now. Russell is not the first person to warn about the dangers of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robots or drones. Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk have issued similar warnings about a dire future for humankind if we don’t take action.
The short video “Slaughterbots”
The video starts with a spokesperson from a defense contractor, showcasing his company’s latest product, a mini-drone packed with a small explosive that uses AI to locate, target and kill its target with a small explosion to the head.
“You can target an evil ideology, right where it starts,” the spokesperson says as he is pointing to his head. The video continues to show various scare scenarios around the world, including versions where the drones fall into the wrong hands. The video is very effective in achieving an ominous feeling about the effect that killer drones could have on mankind.
The drones described in the video are very small and fit easily in the palm of your hand. They use artificial intelligence to fly themselves and have processors on board that are one hundred times faster than humans in processing information. The small slaughterbots, or killer drones, come equipped with sensors, camera’s, facial recognition and 3 grams of explosive, enough to kill one person. The drones also operate in swarms, making them more effective and more dangerous.
The video was released around the same time the UN’s Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons is being held in Geneva, Switzerland, where the future of autonomous weapons will be discussed. The three largest arms exporters have all shown interest in autonomous or unmanned weapons systems.
The video ends with a message of professor Stuart Russell himself:
This short film is more than just speculation. It shows the results of integrating and militarizing technologies that we already have. I am Stuart Russell a professor of computer sciences at Berkeley University. I worked in AI (Artificial Intelligence) for more than 35 years. It’s potential to benefit humanity is enormous even in defense. Allowing machines to chose to kill humans will be devastating to our security and freedom. Thousands of my fellow researchers agree. We have an opportunity to prevent the future you just saw but the window to act is closing fast.
Go to autonomousweapons.org for more information and to sign the petition.