Skynet is already operational folks – It just hasn’t become self-aware quite yet

Ten years ago, self-driving cars and artificial intelligence were more the hopes and dreams of overzealous rich kids and geeks, but fast forward to today, and we’re so close to embracing this futuristic technology that we could be just setting ourselves up for annihilation. Not that long ago, I brought you a story about autonomous fighter jets that could not only fly by themselves but complete their own missions – even identifying and dispatching threats along the way, all without the input of a human pilot. Ultimately, this technology will lead to entire swarms of unmanned fighter jets all under the control of one central but manned fighting machine. This technology has already been put into use and even completed a successful test run in April of 2017 – mark it in the history books; Skynet is born. Okay, so it’s not really called “Skynet” (we hope not anyway,) but you get the idea. Autonomous killing machines could be bad news.

This was the entire basis for the 1984 movie “Terminator” and the handful of follow-up movies that came after it. In short, autonomous machines became self-aware and began to extinguish the worlds biggest threat – humans. Now, AI is taking off like crazy, making its own language (human language just wasn’t good enough), creating its own songs, and even learning to walk all on its own in simulations. With the way humans naturally move to use every piece of technology as a weapon against ourselves, autonomous flying jets and AI police officers are just the tip of the iceberg. And it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if we were all dumb enough to put our entire arsenal of deadly weapons under the control of a computer algorithm. It’s a real threat folks, with some of the best minds in the world warning against it – including men Like Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk. Now, Elon Musk has formed a coalition along with Alphabet’s Mustafa Suleyman to push the United Nations to put a ban on autonomous weapons systems.

Keep reading for the rest of the story.

Leading Robotics and AI Experts Call for a Ban

Now that the United Nations has voted to begin formal discussions about autonomous killing machines, more than 100 of the leading robotics and AI experts have screamed for a ban in hopes of preventing the “third revolution of warfare.”

An excerpt from the letter says, “Once developed; lethal autonomous weapons will permit armed conflict to be fought on a scale greater than ever, and at timescales faster than humans can comprehend. These can be weapons of terror, weapons that despots and terrorists use against innocent populations, and weapons hacked to behave in undesirable ways.” And the coalition has a very good point. Even if autonomous weapons systems don’t become self-aware and wage war on their human creators all Skynet/Terminator style, they could do so if taken control of by terrorists or anyone with a desire to cause massive destruction.

Once developed; lethal autonomous weapons will permit armed conflict to be fought on a scale greater than ever, and at timescales faster than humans can comprehend

It reminds me of the movie War Games. In the movie, a kid hacked into a computer, not knowing it was a government system, and accidentally ran a simulation that tricked the NORAD defense systems into believing the U.S. was under nuclear attack. Scarily enough, the movie was based on a true story in which NORAD programmers accidentally ran a computer simulation making it appear as if the Soviet Union had launched some 250 missiles that were all heading for the U.S.

Naturally, this would lead to our utter destruction and the U.S. almost retaliated. Thankfully, the real-life mistake was realized before missiles were launched. Had the U.S. retaliated, even against a false attack, our world would be very different now – even if we didn’t wipe ourselves out in some crazy, accidental doomsday scenario.

While we (hopefully) know better now, the more weapons and defense systems are integrated and networked together, the easier it will be from someone will malintent to attempt a takeover of these systems. Even our AI doesn’t become self-aware, under the control of bad people, they could do just as much damage if not more.

Is it Hypocritical of Musk to Call for a Ban of Autonomous Weapons?

Some are saying there’s a lot of hypocrisy here as Elon Musk is completely okay with the use of autonomous technology in cars, which can also be hacked. In theory, they could even be used as weapons of mass destruction. Think about this scenario for a moment. A whole city’s infrastructure is hacked, confusing self-driving cars and causing an entire city’s worth of car accidents all at the same time – the chaos would be monumental and a huge burden on medical and transportation systems. Now imagine if things were taken further, and all of those cars (most likely all-electric) were hacked and programmed to go into electrical overload, ultimately leading to fires and explosions. To make things worse, a coordinated attack could place this kind of scenario in every major city of the U.S. simultaneously. That’s a lot of confusion. destruction, and more than likely a lot of deaths.

A whole city's infrastructure is hacked, confusing self-driving cars and causing an entire city’s worth of car accidents all at the same time – the chaos would be monumental and a huge burden on medical and transportation systems

Of course, this is all in theory, but the fact remains that cars have already been hacked with some pretty scary results. Will we see a Maximum Overdrive type of situation where cars begin trying to kill the human population? It’s highly doubtful, but it seems as if that scenario is okay as long as they aren’t loaded up with massive payloads of deadly weapons.

Now, with that in mind, don’t think I’m saying that Musk is a hypocrite for wanting to ban Autonomous weapons. I actually agree with him, but others have pointed out the hypocrisy. But, when you look at the whole picture, the risk of self-driving cars going crazy, even under hacker control, is far lower than that of armed machines with artificial intelligence that have the ability to cause serious destruction. Sure, they will be programmed with prime directives they supposedly can’t break and all of that, but the right hacker could potentially circumvent that safety measure.

In the end, it’s just something to think about as we move into a more autonomous future. When you have a large number of the world’s leading experts in certain fields calling for a ban, it might be best to listen to what they have to say. So, should the U.N. put a ban on autonomous weapons altogether, or is the next inevitable step in warfare? Would it be better to put this technology into service now instead of waiting until one of our enemies does? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

References

Elon Musk Wants A 5-Mile Hyperloop Test Track
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2018 Tesla Model 3 Exterior High Resolution
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Autonomous All The Things – Tesla's Master Plan For Driverless Vehicles
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Read our full stories about Autonomous cars.

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