Banning autonomous weapons: Impractical and ineffective

Computers have long outperformed humans at certain functions that are perceived to require “intelligence.” A famous early example is the Bombe machine developed during World War II at Bletchley Park, which allowed the United Kingdom to decipher messages encoded by the German military’s Enigma machines. In 1997, the IBM computer Deep Blue beat world chess champion Gary Kasparov in a six-game match. In 2011, IBM’s Watson—which “uses natural language processing and machine learning to reveal insights from large amounts of unstructured data”—appeared on the television quiz show Jeopardy and outplayed a pair of former champions. So I reject my colleague Heather Roff’s Round Two suggestion that I had contradicted myself by writing, on one hand, that it’s likely impossible for artificial intelligence ever to achieve human-level intelligence; and on the…

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