SYDNEY, April 6 (Xinhua) -- More than 50 artificial intelligence (AI) researchers around the globe have signed a letter to boycott a top South Korean university over its autonomous weapons project.
Initiated by professor Toby Walsh at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, the boycott targeted the Research Center for the Convergence of National Defense and Artificial Intelligence, co-established in February by the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) and South Korea's conglomerate Hanwha Group.
The center aims to "develop AI technologies to be applied to military weapons, joining the global competition to develop autonomous arms," said the letter posted online on Wednesday.
"We will boycott all collaborations with any part of KAIST until such time as the President of KAIST provides assurances, which we have sought but not received, that the Center will not develop autonomous weapons lacking meaningful human control," the letter said.
Considering that Hanwha Group has been doing defense business for more than six decades, many feared that the new center could be used as a tool for the conglomerate to accelerate an arms race.
Scientists warned in the letter that developed autonomous weapons will lead to faster war fought at a greater scale.
According to the center, its principle research fields are AI-based command and decision systems, composite navigation algorithms for mega-scale unmanned undersea vehicles, AI-based smart aircraft training systems, and AI-based smart object tracking and recognition technology.
KAIST later said in a statement that it had no intention to "engage in the development of lethal autonomous weapons systems and killer robots."
Walsh responded that he would talk with all the signers of the boycott letter on whether to call off the boycott, according to Reuters.