There is a Congressional Robotics Caucus, which was formed in 2007. Its focus is on positive and peaceful uses of robotics technology. It’s often difficult for advocacy groups to address the beneficial and dangerous aspects of their focus in equal measure. So I’m not surprised that a Congressional briefing on killer robots was not sponsored by the Robotics Caucus. Credit the Campaign To Stop Killer Robots, an international coalition of NGOs concerned about autonomous weapons, for last month’s event.
What both groups have in common is Massachusetts Representative Jim McGovern. He served as emcee of the killer robots event and is a member of the Congressional Robotics Caucus. The other speakers were there to discuss how autonomous weapons/killer robots could be controlled pre-emptively. McGovern is persuaded that there is enough time before these technologies are mature enough that the proverbial cat is out of the bag.
These aren’t lone voices speaking on the subject. The Department of Defense has its own policy on autonomous and semi-autonomous weapons systems.
Yes, McGovern and others are really concerned about Terminator-style fighting robots. This is arguably a subset of the more familiar concern over artificial intelligence. And Elon Musk recently weighed in on his concerns in that area, indicating that trying to avoid negative consequences of artificial intelligence has motivated some of his investment decisions.