More than 50 top researchers in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) on Wednesday announced a boycott of KAIST, South Korea’s top university, after it opened what they called an AI weapons lab with one of South Korea’s largest companies.
The researchers, based in 30 countries, said they would refrain from visiting KAIST, hosting visitors from the university, or cooperating with its research programs until it pledged to refrain from developing AI weapons without “meaningful human control.”
KAIST, which opened the center in February with Hanwha Systems, one of two South Korean makers of cluster munitions, responded within hours, saying that it had “no intention to engage in development of lethal autonomous weapons systems and killer robots.”
The university was “significantly aware” of ethical concerns regarding AI, KAIST president Shin Sung-chul said, adding: “I reaffirm once again that KAIST will not conduct any research activities counter to human dignity including autonomous weapons lacking meaningful human control.”
The university said the Research Center for the Convergence of National Defense and Artificial Intelligence would focus on using AI for command and control systems, navigation for large uncrewed undersea vehicles, “smart” aircraft training and tracking and recognition of objects.
Toby Walsh, the professor at the University of New South Wales in Sydney who organized the boycott, said the university’s quick response was a success, but he needed to speak with all those who signed the letter before calling off the boycott.
“KAIST has made two significant concessions: not to develop autonomous weapons and to ensure meaningful human control,” Walsh said, adding that KAIST’s response would add weight to UN discussions taking place next week on the overall issue.
It remained unclear how meaningful human control of an uncrewed submarine — one of the launch projects — could be established when it was under the sea and unable to communicate, he added.
‘WEAPONS OF TERROR’
In an open letter announcing the boycott, the researchers said: “If developed, autonomous weapons will ... permit war to be fought faster and at a scale great than ever before. They will have the potential to be weapons of terror.”
They cited effective bans on previous arms technologies and urged KAIST to ban any work on lethal autonomous weapons, and to refrain from AI uses that would harm human lives.
The letter, also signed by top experts on deep learning and robotics, was released ahead of a meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, on Monday by 123 UN member countries on the challenges posed by lethal autonomous weapons, which critics have described as “killer robots.”
Walsh told reporters that there were many potential good uses of robotics and AI in the military, including removing humans from dangerous tasks, such as clearing minefields.
“But we should not hand over the decision of who lives or dies to a machine. This crosses a clear moral line,” Walsh said. “We should not let robots decide who lives and who dies.”
NOTABLE SHIFT: By 2030, 50% of all laptops would be assembled in Southeast Asia, while Taiwan would still mostly focus on research and development, a report said Global laptop and desktop computer supply chains are expected to shift significantly away from China in the next 10 years, a Market Intelligence & Consulting Institute (MIC, 產業情報研究所) report said. By 2030, only 40 percent of global laptop production would remain in China, said the report, which was released on Thursday. “The reshuffling of the global supply chain will be one of the most important trends in the next 10 years,” the institute said in the report. “In the long run, key component makers will follow laptop assemblers in moving out of China.” The Taipei-based institute predicted most key component makers
Merck Group Taiwan yesterday said that it plans to invest substantially on expanding its fab in Kaohsiung’s Lujhu District (路竹) to better serve its local customers, including Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電). The company said it plans to expand its production space by 50 percent in the next five years and its workforce by about 40 percent, Merck Group Taiwan managing director Dick Hsieh (謝志宏) told a media briefing in Taipei. Hsieh declined to disclose investment details, but said that the latest investment would exceed the total amount Merck has invested in Taiwan over the past few years. Those investments would be
Yageo Corp (國巨), the world’s third-largest supplier of multilayer ceramic capacitors, has formed a strategic alliance with Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (鴻海精密) to develop key electronic components for electric vehicles and digital healthcare, it said yesterday. The alliance is to help Yageo boost its revenue from high-end components for vehicles and industrial, medical and aerospace devices, as well as those used in 5G and Internet-of-Things devices, the company said. The companies signed the strategic alliance agreement at Yageo’s headquarters in New Taipei City’s Sindian District (新店). Their cooperation is to start this quarter, the companies said in a joint statement. “Through the cooperation
SUPPLY CONSTRAINTS: The transferred orders might not provide an immediate revenue boost given local chipmakers’ high utilization rates, a senior analyst said Shares of local contract chipmakers yesterday rose as much as the 10 percent daily limit, as investors bet on orders being transferred from Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC, 中芯國際) after the US imposed export restrictions on the Chinese chipmaker. United Microelectronics Corp (UMC, 聯電) shares soared 10 percent to close at NT$27.5 as 380 million shares changed hands on the Taiwan Stock Exchange. UMC is the world’s No. 3 foundry by revenue, followed by SMIC, according to data from market researcher TrendForce Corp (集邦科技). UMC has product and customer portfolios similar to those of SMIC, TrendForce said, adding that UMC offers 14-nanometer and