Documentaries  |    |  December 13, 2019

A.I. Is Making It Easier to Kill (You). Here’s How.

Documentary by By Jonah M. Kessel, Natalie Reneau and Melissa Chan. Produced by The New York Times. Runtime 19 minutes.

A tank that drives itself. A machine gun with facial-recognition software. Sound like science fiction? Weapons powered by artificial intelligence are here.

Includes interviews with

  • Stuart Russell, author of the standard textbook on artificial intelligence, Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach
  • Paul Scharre, author of Army of None: Autonomous Weapons and the Future of War
  • Jody Williams, winner of a Nobel Peace Prize for her work banning land mines
  • Mary Wareham, advocacy director of the Arms Division at Human Rights Watch

Times reporters traveled to Russia, Switzerland, California and Washington, D.C., talking to experts in the commercial tech, military and A.I. communities. Below are some key points and analysis, along with extras from the documentary.

Do I need to worry about a Terminator knocking on my door?

Most experts say you can rest easy, for now. Weapons that can operate like human soldiers are not something they see in our immediate future. Although there are varying opinions, most agree we are far from achieving artificial general intelligence, or A.G.I., that would allow for Terminators with the kind of flexibility necessary to be effective on today’s complex battlefield.

However, Stuart J. Russell, a professor of computer science at the University of California, Berkeley, who wrote an influential textbook on artificial intelligence, says achieving A.G.I. that is as smart as humans is inevitable. [ . . . ]