Our fear of killer robots might doom us all

Here’s the problem: Preemptively banning the military application of AI technologies also carries risks and trade-offs that researchers must consider. Indeed, such limits might actually impede development — the exact outcome researchers say they want to avoid. Many of the key technologies of the last half century were spurred along by military R&D and purchases, including computers, airplanes, nuclear power, and the internet. Throughout American history, “U.S. military support for the development of new technologies” has helped drive the economy, explains Michael Lind is in his 2012 book Land of Promise: An Economic History of the United States.

Now, theoretically you could replace a lot of military financing and focus with more civilian spending. But in the U.S., at least, it is a lot easier to get Congress to cut checks for science research when the money is funneled through the Pentagon in the name of advancing national security.