The Art: Slaughterbots
The Artist: Future of Life Institute
About the Work:
This confronting short film might seem a little graceless, but it depicts a very grim reality that we could be facing in the near future.
Viewers will probably be quick to compare Slaughterbots to an episode of acclaimed sci-fi series Black Mirror, but there’s one key distinction. Unlike Black Mirror, this project was conceived specifically with the goal of educating by Future of Life Institute, a Boston-based nonprofit designed to warn about the dangers of unrestricted AI production.
With founders like Skype’s Jann Tallinn and DeepMind researcher Viktoriya Krakovna working alongside advisors including Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, and UC Berkeley professor Stuart Russell, a computer scientist with over 35 years of experience in Artificial Intelligence who appears at the end of the film, the Future of Life Institute grounds Slaughterbots themes, turning it into more than just another dystopic reflection on the dangers of technology.
The dialogue echoes the dramatic rhetoric spoken not just by AI developers, but militaries across the world. In the last year alone, 30 nations have been confirmed to be working on killer robots.
Slaughterbots was screened in Geneva earlier this month, where the United Nations were holding a Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. A discussion surrounding AI-operated weapons was on the convention’s agenda.
While a resolution still remains unclear on the topic, experts warn time is running out to halt development of such deadly technology. So far, over 23,000 scientists and 22 governments have signed a petition for a moratorium to be held on automated weapon systems.