UC Berkeley professor’s ‘slaughterbots’ video on killer drones goes viral


A UC Berkeley computer science professor helped to create a video that imagined a world where nuclear weapons were replaced by swarms of autonomous tiny drones that could kill half a city and are virtually unstoppable.

Stuart Russell, the professor, said these drones are already a reality.

The fictional video takes the viewer to a conference where a speaker showcases a drone roughly the size of a mockingbird. The drone lands in his hand and he throws the drone out into the audience. The drone recalibrates, turns back to the stage and crashes into the forehead of a dummy that was standing off to the left of the stage.

The video was released earlier this month by the Future of Life Institute, which is backed by Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk. It was presented by Russel at a United Nations Convention on Conventional Weapons in Geneva, according to The Mercury News.

“Trained as a team (the drones) can penetrate buildings, cars, trains, all while having the capacity to evade any countermeasure. They cannot be stopped,” the speaker told the audience in the video.

He noted that “a $25 million order” can now buy a swarm of such tiny “slaughterbots” that could kill half a city.

Russell said that although A.I.’s “potential to benefit humanity is enormous, even in defense,” allowing the widespread use of machines that “choose to kill humans will be devastating to our security and freedom.”

“Thousands of my fellow researchers agree. But the window to act is closing fast,” he said.


Dr. Hans C. Mumm