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Elon Musk is Cancelling the Robot Apocalypse

In the immortal words of Stacker Pentecost, “Today we face the monsters that are at our door and bring the fight to them! Today, we are canceling the apocalypse!” Except the monsters at our door aren’t goo-spewing kaiju but completely autonomous weapons systems. Think Roombas with machine guns. Elon Musk has thought about it — he thinks about it a lot — and he’s leading the charge to make sure the robot-filled apocalypse never gets to our door in the first place.

Ahead of United Nations talks on the use on autonomous weapons systems in warfare — drones, walking tanks with guns for hands, that kind of thing — Musk and 116 experts from 26 nations signed an open letter urging the UN to create a government panel that can advise and warn where necessary. It reads, in part:

Once developed, lethal autonomous weapons will permit armed conflict to be fought at a scale greater than ever, and at timescales faster than humans can comprehend. These can be weapons of terror, weapons that despots and terrorists use against innocent populations, and weapons hacked to behave in undesirable ways. We do not have long to act. Once this Pandora’s box is opened, it will be hard to close.

The AI experts take this danger very seriously, and so hope that when these systems do come online, there are people in place to make sure what’s going online isn’t Skynet.

Also on the show today, we bring you coverage from the 2017 total solar eclipse (video and archived streams here) a day late and Musk is now a billionaire-playboy-philanthropist-ice cream man.

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