Stuart Russell, a professor at UC Berkeley, and the Future of Life Institute have released an eerie video depicting a possible future where humans have created small drones designed to locate specific people and eliminate them. The film, titled “Slaughterbots,” is graphic at times, as it shows how powerful technological weapons could be when used against unsuspecting targets.
As reported by SF Gate, the video shows a technology that was originally developed to fight crime and terrorism. But, when unknown forces take control of the small drones, the hand-sized flying craft are used to target senators and college students.
The video opens with a demonstration, not unlike what many tech giants use to announce new products today, where the features of the drone are touted as beneficial to society, including the weapons ability to “make the decisions” and evade “pretty much any countermeasure.”
In the film, trouble begins when the AI technology is leaked, and the devices end up in the hands of those the drones were meant to fight against, along with various fringe groups with particular objectives or ideologies.
The video includes news-style footage detailing an attack where 11 senators are killed by the devices in an automated attack.
It also contains a scene where a group of college students is attacked while in their classroom.
Russell, an expert on artificial intelligence, speaks at the end of the film to warn others about the dangers associated with developing autonomous weapons.
“This short film is just more than speculation,” says Russell. “It shows the results of integrating and militarizing technologies that we already have.”
The video was released by the Future of Life Institute to influence diplomats at the United Nations Convention on Conventional Weapons, held in Geneva, Switzerland, and was screened during the first day of the event.
Russell and the Future of Life Institute aren’t the first to issue warnings about the development of autonomous weapons. In 2015, Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, and droves of AI and robotics experts wrote a letter calling for a ban on such technology. The authors of the letter asserted that such weapons would be “feasible within years.”
“Allowing machines to choose to kill humans will be devastating to our security and freedom,” Russell added. “We have an opportunity to prevent the future you just saw, but the window to act is closing fast.”