About 50 famous foreign robot scientists have declared a boycott of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) over its alleged artificial intelligence (AI) weapon research.
In a statement released on April 4, the scientists, including professor Toby Walsh of the University of New South Wales in the U.S., demanded that KAIST put a halt to such research. They expressed concerns that weapons to be developed by KAIST could be killer robots.
In response to the scientists’ move, KAIST made it clear that they had no intention of developing killer robots.
The scholars said in a letter to the president of KAIST that they have not received any confirmation from him regarding their demand that such research be stopped. "Until KAIST promises not to develop weapons that autonomously make decisions without meaningful human control, we will boycott joint research with KAIST across the board."
Shin Sung-chul, president of the state-run research and education institute, made it clear in an interview with the Financial Times that KAIST did not intend to develop a killer robot. "KAIST holds human rights and ethics standards in high regard as an academic institution," Shin said. "We will not conduct any research activities against human dignity, such as autonomous weapons that operate without meaningful human control."
KAIST sent an e-mail in the name of Shin to the professors participating in the boycott. It said that it received replies from some professors that they would retract the boycott.
In February this year, KAIST opened the Defense Intelligence Convergence Research Center with Hanhwa Systems, a Korean company specializing in weapons development. The center was designed to undertake research on national defense AI convergence tasks and conduct exchanges of researchers.
In particular, the center’s main objectives included the development of an AI-based intelligent aircraft training system, intelligent object tracking and recognition technology, and complex navigation algorithms for large unmanned submersibles.
Yet a KAIST official said, "The Defense Intelligence Convergence Research Center will not conduct research that violates human ethics." He reiterated that KAIST would not conduct research activities that are contrary to human dignity, including autonomous weapons not controlled by human beings.