Despite several warnings from technology moguls, the age of dangerous killer robots, AI-powered machines that require little to no oversight to kill, is here.
A senior official from the US Department of Defense has confirmed that China has developed the technology in the form of autonomous drones and is selling it to the Middle East.
Here's all you need to know about it.
Chinese government exporting lethal robots
At the ongoing National Security Commission on AI conference, US Defense Secretary Mark Esper claimed that the Chinese government and weapons manufacturers are selling autonomous killbots to Saudi Arabia, Pakistan.
"As we speak, the Chinese government is already exporting some of its most advanced military aerial drones to the Middle East," Esper said, adding that they're also preparing to export next-generation stealth UAVs soon.
Weapon contractors' bots capable of carrying out 'targeted strikes'
Further, Esper emphasized that Chinese weapons contractors "are selling drones advertised as capable of full autonomy, including the ability to conduct lethal targeted strikes."
One such contractor is Ziyan, which, according to DefenseOne, is actively marketing Blowfish A3, a helicopter-like drone that's been outfitted with a machine gun to carry out precision strikes on its own.
Here's what Blowfish is capable of doing
The official site of Ziyan describes Blowfish as a weapon that "autonomously performs more complex combat missions, including fixed-point timing detection, fixed-range reconnaissance, and targeted precision strikes."
No action taken to curb the rise of killer robots
If this revelation is true and Ziyan (among other contractors) is indeed selling killer robots to the Middle East, it's a major point of concern.
And while Russia and the US are also racing to develop these machines, leading tech experts have called for a ban, saying their algorithms could malfunction, pick up the wrong party as the 'enemy' and open fire on them.
However, China sees military usage of AI as 'inevitable'
"Despite expressing concern on AI arms races, most of China's leadership sees increased military usage of AI as inevitable and is aggressively pursuing it," Greg Allen, DOD's Chief of Strategy/Communications, had said in February. The country "already exports armed autonomous platforms and surveillance AI."