Killer robots that can execute without human intervention will become a reality within years unless there is a global agreement to ban them, warns a leading scientist.
Wendell Wallach, an ethicist at Yale University, will today call on the US government to outlaw such machines on the basis they violate international humanitarian law.
Wallach also warns that technology has become so advanced that a robot capable of killing humans on its own volition will soon become a possibility - much like the rogue machines seen in Arnold Schwarzenegger's hit film, The Terminator.
'The basic idea is there is a need for concerted action to keep technology a good servant and not let it become a dangerous master.'
Last year, similar sentiments were voiced by Stephen Hawking, in an open letter arguing AI development should not go on uncontrolled, otherwise mankind could be heading for a dark future.
At the time, Hawking told Techworld: 'Computers will overtake humans with AI at some within the next 100 years.
'When that happens, we need to make sure the computers have goals aligned with ours.'
'Our future is a race between the growing power of technology and the wisdom with which we use it.'
Elon Musk, owner of SpaceX, also signed the open letter and donated $10million to resolve such concerns, deeming artificial intelligence potentially more dangerous than nuclear weapons.
Wallach believes there should be ethical committees created to closely monitor and oversee research into artificial intelligence.
As reported in the Sunday Times, Wallach said: 'One of the concerns voiced by critics of military robots is the prospect that robotic weaponry will lower the psychological barriers to starting wars.
'Another major concern is that robotic fighting machines in the relatively near future could autonomously initiate lethal activity.'
The Pentagon openly supports the development of autonomous weapons and recently requested $19billion to boost funding for this.
Meanwhile, other leading scientists claim that robots will soon be able to do everything humans are capable of - resulting in a threat to tens of millions of jobs over the next 30 years.
Moshe Vardi, director of the Institute for Information Technology at Rice University in Texas, said: 'We are approaching a time when machines will be able to outperform humans at almost any task.
'I believe that society needs to confront this question before it is upon us: If machines are capable of doing almost any work humans can do, what will humans do?' he asked at a panel discussion on artificial intelligence at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Vardi said there will always be some need for human work in the future, but robot replacements could drastically change the landscape, with no profession safe, and men and women equally affected.
'Can the global economy adapt to greater than 50 percent unemployment?' he asked.
Today there are more than 200,000 industrial robots in the USA and their number continues to rise.
By Vardi's calculation, 10 percent of jobs related to driving in the United States could disappear due to the rise of driverless cars in the coming 25 years.
According to Bart Selman, professor of computer science at Cornell University, 'in the next two or three years, semi-autonomous or autonomous systems will march into our society.'
He listed self-driving cars and trucks, autonomous drones for surveillance and fully automatic trading systems, along with house robots and other kinds of 'intelligence assistance' which make decisions on behalf of humans.
'We will be in sort of symbiosis with those machines and we will start to trust them and work with them,' he predicted.
'This is the concern because we don't know the rate of growth of machine intelligence, how clever those machines will become.'
Read more: Rogue 'Terminators' which can kill without human orders 'will be in use within years' | Daily Mail Online
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