Should a bot be allowed to kill you?

With assistance from Derek Robertson

In the novel 1866 Crime and punishmentRussian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky He rehearses directly a dark and perplexing question: Is it acceptable for a human being to take the life of another human being?

More than a century and a half later, an appropriate reinterpretation would make Raskolnikov, the murderous main character, a robot. This is because military analysts and human rights advocates have been grappling over a new ethical frontier: Is it ever acceptable for a fully autonomous machine to kill a human being?

The answer now appears to be no — not in any formal sense, but by unofficial global consensus. This is despite experts believing that autonomous weapons already existed deployed on the battlefield in the past years.

But that question may very quickly be pushed to the official front in Europe: Ukrainian officials evolve So-called “killer robots”, possibly for use in the country’s fight against Russia. Military experts warn that the longer the war drags on — as we approach its first anniversary in February — the more likely it is that we’ll see drones that can target, engage and kill targets without a real human finger on the trigger.

Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine’s digital transformation minister, told The Associated Press earlier this month that killer autonomous drones are a “logical and inevitable next step” in weapons development. Ukraine is doing “a lot” of research and development on this topic, and he believes the “potential for that is huge in the next six months.”

You would think someone would frantically try to prevent this, and you’d be right: Campaign to stop killer robotsFor twelve years, an international coalition of NGOs has been pressing governments and members of the United Nations to demand proactive arms embargoes. Very worried about Ukraine.

The deployment of fully autonomous weapons “changes the relationship between people and technology by handing over life-and-death decision-making to machines,” Catherine Connolly, the group’s director of robotic decision research, told Digital Future Daily.

The United Nations has been debating this issue for years without reaching any kind of consensus. Groups such as Stop Killer Robots, Human Rights Watch, and the International Committee of the Red Cross have called for a legally binding international treaty on autonomous weapons systems. This required an agreement between the members of the United Nations, which has been impossible to achieve until now.

But there seems to be momentum in the anti-killer bot camp.

In October 70 countries made a joint statement on Autonomous Weapon Systems at the United Nations General Assembly. In it, they called for “the adoption of appropriate rules and procedures” for weapons. It is the largest cross-regional statement ever made to the United Nations on this issue, with signatories including the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, and other highly militarized countries.

However, not everyone agrees. So far in the United Nations, some countries We believe preventative bans can get in the way The ability of their armies to use artificial intelligence technologies in the future. And in the academic world, there is some doubt that the moral distinction is as clear as advocates suppose. One provocative study even argues It could be “good news”, going so far as to say that fears surrounding killer robots are completely unfounded.

The truth is that war is terrifying, horrible, and there will always be [soldiers] Someone shot in the head and their guts splattered against the wall. Like, that’s not particularly fun, is it? “It doesn’t matter much if it’s a human doing it,” Zack Kalinborn, a weapons innovation analyst at George Mason University, told Digital Future Daily.

The pace of technology now saves us from having to decide, Kallenborn said. Many countries already have completely independent technology developed, but these kinks have been difficult to work around. Deploying killing machines that might mistake a school bus full of kids for an enemy tank, for example, would be a bad idea.

“Some of the problems I’ve had is that they’re not trustworthy or reliable, and it’s often difficult to explain why they made the decision,” Kalinborn said. “It’s really hard to adapt and use the system if you don’t really know” how it makes the decision.

One of the main questions, as weapons falter without clear regulations, is who will be held accountable for actions a robot performs with its own mind.

Neither criminal nor civil law guarantees accountability for persons directly involved in the use of killer robots, According to a report from Human Rights Watch. If a civilian is killed by mistake, it is unclear who should face the consequences when there is no human intervention.

“When people say it doesn’t matter if it’s a used machine… [humans] You still have accountability and responsibility. Humans have the moral responsibility to make targeting decisions, Connolly said, and we can’t delegate that to machines.

For now, the decade-old controversy continues. The United Nations will meet again in March and May to discuss the technology provisions, but if they cannot reach a consensus, the issue will be brought up for another year.

“At this point, the time to talk is kind of over,” Connolly said. “It’s time to work.”

We all understand the concerns About crypto and other unregulated blockchain productspollution“Traditional financing, the addition of new risks and the possibility of market failures similar to FTX.

But what about the art world?

Vanity Fair columnist Nate Freeman I mentioned last week About what happened when the musical chairs of the world of dizzyingly high-priced NFTs came to a halt last year as longtime art collectors bid multimillion-dollar bids for some of the most popular tokens. As it turns out, perhaps the most well-known presence in the cryptocurrency world was behind one of the biggest sales, when 107 Bored Ape tokens were sold at Sotheby’s for $24.4 million in 2021: Sam Bankman-Fried’s FTX, which some sold. Crypto investigations on twitter Linked to the chain of digital transactions behind the sale.

Which is somewhat of a legal issue, as it could represent as Freeman said “a major investor in Yuga Labs is inflating the value of Yuga Labs’ most valuable assets by putting them up for auction.” A large number of lawsuits, accusations of paranoid, and devious in creating tax write-offs course may follow; Freeman’s report is worth reading for the details. –Derek Robertson

What takes so long in virtual reality To get here – that is, in the daily lives of ordinary Americans?

Stunningly realistic 3D and augmented reality technology already exists, as do fully immersive virtual reality headsets like the Meta Quest series. But the arrival of the “metaverse” in any meaningful sense is still very much in the future tense.

Metaverse evangelist Matthew Ball recently embraced this question, blaming it – in part – on our attachment to hardware. Writing on his website Monday, Paul, a venture capitalist and author of “The Metaverse: And How It Will Revolution Everything,” wrote about “Why VR/Augmented Reality is getting so far is because it comes into focus. As he puts it, there are simply so many electronic devices we’re already hooked on—not to mention more traditional offline hobbies (remember those?)—that an expensive, clunky headset would be hard to shake off.

“To drive adoption, VR games need to be better than the alternatives, like TV, reading, board games, Dungeons & Dragons, video games, and whatever else,” Paul wrote. But for the most part, VR is losing the entertainment war. Yes, it offers greater immersion, more intuitive inputs, and more precise (or at least complex) controls. But the downsides abound…the average VR user can only play with a subsection of his friends — which is a huge disadvantage given the nature of virtual reality applications.”

Ball ends on a somewhat optimistic note about the metaverse, however, noting that many of the augmented reality applications it would require are already up and running on our smartphones – quoting Neil Stephenson’s remarks last year that “a lot of Metaverse content will be created for screens (where market exists) while keeping options open for the future growth of affordable headphones.” –Derek Robertson