Researchers concerned about reported work on autonomous weapons at a South Korean university

Researchers from several universities around the world have written a letter expressing public concern about reported plans of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) to work on autonomous weapons technology. The letter makes reference to KAIST’s Research Center for the Convergence of National Defense and Artificial Intelligence, recently opened in collaboration with defense company Hanwha Systems, and to reports about the Centre aiming to ‘develop artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to be applied to military weapons, joining the global competition to develop autonomous arms.’ Concerned about such prospects, the signatories underline that autonomous weapons are a threat to international security, as they ‘will permit war to be fought faster and at a scale greater than ever before’ and ‘have the potential to be weapons of terror’. They also urged KAIST not to ‘accelerate the arms race to develop such weapons’ and to provide assurance that the Center ‘will not develop autonomous weapons lacking meaningful human control’. In reaction, KAIST’s president, Sung-Chul Shin, said that the Institute does not intend to ‘engage in the development of lethal autonomous weapons systems and killer robots,‘ and ‘will not conduct any research activities counter to human dignity including autonomous weapons lacking meaningful human control.’​