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Killer Robot: Amazon, Microsoft In 'high Concern' List

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Microsoft and Amazon are named among the world's "highest risk" technology companies that have the potential to develop killer robot which might be putting the world at risk, says a report based on surveying major players from the sector about their stance on lethal autonomous weapons.

Dutch NGO Pax surveyed 50 companies from 12 countries, all working on big tech, hardware, Artificial Intelligence software and system integration, pattern recognition, autonomous and swarming aerial systems, or ground robots.

They were ranked on the basis of three criteria: whether they were developing technology that could be relevant to killer robots; working on related military projects; and if they had committed to not contribute to the development of lethal autonomous weapons in the future.

In the analysis, 7 companies were classified as engaging in "best practice", which have clearly committed to ensure its technology will not be used to produce lethal autonomous weapons. They include Google, which last year published its AI principles vowing not to use it in weapons systems, and Japan's Softbank.

22 companies were of "medium concern."

The report listed 21 companies as "high concern" as they did not make it clear if they develop relevant technology, work on military projects and have not yet committed to not contributing to developing these weapons.

They included US-based companies Amazon, Microsoft, Anduril, Clarifai, Palantir and Canadian company AerialX.

These firms did not reply to numerous requests to clearly define their position, says the report titled "Don't be evil?"

"Why are companies like Microsoft and Amazon not denying that they're currently developing these highly controversial weapons, which could decide to kill people without direct human involvement?", asks Frank Slijper, who is the report's lead author. He noted that many experts warn that they would violate legal and ethical principles and would be a destabilizing threat to international peace and security.

Concerns have been raised that tech companies, especially those working on military contracts, currently lack any public policy to ensure their work is not contributing to lethal autonomous weapons.

Amazon and Microsoft are bidding for a $10-billion Pentagon contract to provide the cloud infrastructure for the US military, according to AFP.

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