Terminator-style AI weapons ‘as small as tin of shoe polish’ may wipe out humans

Humanity faces being wiped out by Terminator-style smart weapons, military chiefs have been warned.

Computer expert Prof Stuart Russell says the risk posed by artificial intelligence killing machines is so great that he wants them banned.

They can already find and murder specific human targets.

The University of California boffin said: “A lethal, AI-powered quadcopter could be as small as a tin of shoe polish. About 3g of explosives are enough to kill a person at close range.

“A container could hold a million lethal weapons – and they can all be sent to do their work at once.”

The bots are a real-life echo of the plot of 1984 Arnold Schwarzenegger film The Terminator.

The MoD is investing heavily in AI but said its weapons will always have a human in the firing process.

Asked last month whether people should come away from his lectures feeling "scared, inspired, determined to see a path forward with this technology" Prof Russell said "all of the above."

"I think a little bit of fear is appropriate, not fear when you get up tomorrow morning and think my laptop is going to murder me or something, but thinking about the future…

"I would say the same kind of fear we have about the climate or, rather, we should have about the climate," he told the BBC's technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones.

He added that the military section of the lectures deserved a whole talk in itself because: "I think it's really important and really urgent.

"And the reason it's urgent is because the weapons that we have been talking about for the last six years or seven years are now starting to be manufactured and sold."

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