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Toby Walsh, A.I. Expert, Is Racing to Stop the Killer Robots


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Walsh posing with a robot.

University of New South Wales artificial intelligence expert Toby Walsh: You cant have machines deciding whether humans live or die.

Credit: Dean Sewell/The New York Times

Toby Walsh, a professor at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, is one of Australia's leading experts on artificial intelligence. He and other experts have released a report outlining the promises, and ethical pitfalls, of the country's embrace of AI.

Recently, Walsh, 55, has been working with the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, a coalition of scientists and human rights leaders seeking to halt the development of autonomous robotic weapons.

We spoke briefly at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, where he was making a presentation, and then for two hours via telephone. Below is an edited version of those conversations.

You are a scientist and an inventor. How did you become an activist in the fight against 'killer robots'?

It happened incrementally, beginning around 2013. I had been doing a lot of reading about robotic weaponry. I realized how few of my artificial intelligence colleagues were thinking about the dangers of this new class of weapons. If people thought about them at all, they dismissed killer robots as something far in the future.

 

From The New York Times
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