Skynet debate and artificial intelligence in warfare: China AI arms race in focus as experts ring alarm bells

China is making semi-autonomous missiles following the United State's claim of planning the AI-integrated Long Range Anti-Ship Missile.


Artificial Intelligence or AI is the way to go -- the tech experts are certain about it. But there are impending, real threats, not just to jobs and careers but to humanity as such. Having a robot in the hospitals with artificial intelligence to take emergency measures or a robotic space craft with AI to explore extraterrestrial life might sound great but when artificial intelligence is deployed full scale on a battle field it can have disastrous consequences. Anyone who has seen a Terminator film is very much familiar with 'Skynet' and would never want something like that to happen in real world.

Skynet is is a fictional neural net-based conscious group mind and artificial general intelligence that gains self-awareness after it spreads into millions of computer servers all across the world; realizing the extent of its abilities. In the interest of self-preservation, Skynet concludes that all of humanity would attempt to destroy it and impede its capability in safeguarding the world.

And yes, this can happen in real life, fears some of the greatest minds of the field. Scientists are quite wary of the possible dangers of artificial intelligence. According to News Corp, scientists in the field of robotics are actually worried about the rising craze of weaponizing and using artificial intelligence in the battlefield.

As per the scientists, the arms race involving the AI is getting too serious as a number of fictional devices and concepts from the sci-fi films have already made it to the real world. For example, the instant messaging from Pretty in Pink, the air touch technology shown in Minority Report, the robot vacuum in The Jetsons and so on. Star Trek, being the inspiration behind most of the tech geeks in the world since a long time has conceptualized a host og gadgets, which now exist in the real world like, the 3D printers, flip phone-like Communicator, the Personal Access Display Device or the real world's iPad, and the Google Glass which is similar to the show's Virtual Display Device.

With this kind of progress in the tech industry it is not really unthinkable to expect the presence of artificial intelligence in the battlefield with extremely dangerous machineries and nuclear weapons. The United States is already competing with countries like Russia, China and others to develop AI controlled machineries for the battle field.

But China appears to be greater threat as it is in the forefront of countries involved in the AI arms race. It is already in the process of making semi-autonomous missiles following the United State's claim of planning the AI-integrated Long Range Anti-Ship Missile which is due in 2018.

Microsoft has made a huge success in its research about AI as its speech recognition technology has finally reached human parity. However, Chinese scientists working for Baidu, have already beat Microsoft by two years as they successfully had their AI to reach human-like recognition with the Chinese language.

Toby Walsh, a professor at the UNSW's School of Computer Science and Engineering, has already approached the United Nations a couple of times in order to convince everyone to create a governing body to prevent AI from being used in the warfare. He believes that the AI arms race has already started and it's extremely perilous for the human kind.

If Walsh and his colleagues' approach does not get granted the world will soon have robots with the ability to decide on their own whether to launch the nuclear weapons on a nation or not!

This article was first published on February 14, 2017