Artificial intelligence (AI) is poised to play an increasing role in military systems. There is an urgent opportunity and necessity for citizens, policymakers, and leaders to distinguish between acceptable and unacceptable military uses of AI.In this light, we the undersigned agree that the decision to take a human life should never be delegated to a machine. There is a moral component to this position, that we should not allow machines to make life-taking decisions for which others – or nobody – will be culpable. There is also a powerful pragmatic argument: lethal autonomous weapons, selecting and engaging targets without human intervention, would be dangerously destabilizing for every country and individual. Thousands of AI researchers agree that by removing the risk, attributability, and difficulty of taking human lives, lethal autonomous weapons would become the perfect tool for assassination and terror, and their low cost and complete lack of conscience and moral scruples could make them powerful instruments of oppression when linked to surveillance and data systems. Moreover, lethal autonomous weapons represent potential scalable weapons of mass destruction, with characteristics quite different from nuclear, chemical and biological weapons that make them more likely to trigger devastating conflict. The unilateral actions of a single group could too easily spark a global arms race of a hitherto unseen kind that we lack the tools to manage. Stigmatizing and preventing such an arms race should be a high priority for national and global security.
We, the undersigned, call upon governments and government leaders to create a future with strong international norms and regulations or laws against lethal autonomous weapons. These currently being absent, we opt to hold ourselves to a high standard: we will neither participate in nor support the development, manufacture, trade, or use of lethal autonomous weapons. We ask that technology companies and organizations, as well as leaders, policymakers, and other individuals, join us in this pledge.
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