A former Google software engineer Laura Nolan has warned that autonomous AI-empowered killer robots could destroy entire cities in a matter of seconds by accidently causing a “flash war”, Daily Star reports.
Nolan, who resigned from Google last year in protest against being sent to work on a project called Maven, aimed at enhancing US military drone technology, has long been an advocate of banning Al killing machines.
“It's possible that in a situation where a lot of autonomous weapons are deployed in the same area, you could have a 'flash war' situation, where the autonomous weapons react to the behaviour of other autonomous weapons to create a very intense conflict almost instantly", Nolan said in an interview with Daily Star.
“This is similar to the 'flash crashes' that we've seen in the stock markets as a result of automated trading algorithms", the ex-Google engineer explained. "The difference with warfare is that there is no way to put in place a 'circuit breaker', as the stock exchanges have, they generally pause trading when stock prices move too quickly".
“In the worst case, a flash war could mean destruction of an entire city in seconds", she warned.
Laura Nolan is a member of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots (CTSKR), which has been urging countries to sign a treaty banning the use of autonomous weapons that do not require human control. She previously briefed US diplomats in New York and Geneva about the dangers of unregulated technologies, arguing that unmanned weaponry robots could do “calamitous things that they were not originally programmed for”, as cited by The Guardian.
“The likelihood of a disaster is in proportion to how many of these machines will be in a particular area at once. What you are looking at are possible atrocities and unlawful killings even under laws of warfare, especially if hundreds or thousands of these machines are deployed", Nolan previously said, urging governments to subject advanced weaponry systems to human control.
More than 3,000 Google employees who worked alongside Nolan in the Maven programme helping the US Department of Defence build a system of Al machines to teach drones to differentiate between people and objects at faster rate, signed a petition protesting against the company’s involvement in the project. Since 2015, thousands of artificial intelligence experts have joined forces to sign various open letters within the CTSKR campaign to ban the use of killer autonomous weaponry systems.
Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has also previously expressed a number of concerns about the dangers of the unregulated development of artificial intelligence and evolving capabilities of Al-empowered robots in the future, suggesting that the next world war could be caused by competition for Al at the national level.