Life, Love & Lethality: History and Delegating Death on the Battlefield
In military circles, the 1939 Einstein-Szilard letter to President Roosevelt is a well-known document that changed the course of history. It was instrumental in the establishment of the Manhattan Project in 1945, resulting in the world’s first atomic bomb. What is less discussed are Einstein’s writings expressing his deeply regretted role in the creation of weapons of mass destruction. In a similar vein, a key founder of artificial intelligence (AI), Geoffrey Hinton, recently left his position at Google raising his concerns with the direction of developments of this technology. Flagging the potentially dangerous use of AI in fake news, overly fast learning, lack of predictability, and “battle robots,” his strongest concern rests with the historical fact that those with the most capable systems always win. That scientists express remorse and regret about the trajectory of their research is not new, but are we listening carefully enough?