Russia and China are creating highly autonomous weapons, more commonly referred to as killer robots, and it's putting pressure on the Pentagon to keep up, according to US Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work.
During a national-security forum on Monday, Work said that China and Russia are heavily investing in a roboticized army, according to a report from Defense One.
"We know that China is already investing heavily in robotics and autonomy and the Russian Chief of General Staff [Valery Vasilevich] Gerasimov recently said that the Russian military is preparing to fight on a roboticized battlefield," Work said at the forum, hosted by the Center for a New American Security in Washington, DC.
"[Gerasimov] said, and I quote, 'In the near future, it is possible that a complete roboticized unit will be created capable of independently conducting military operations,'" Work continued.
Work then said it's important for the US to "dominate" machine learning and artificial intelligence to offset the imposing threats posed by China and Russia.
Concerns over the creation of killer robots have mounted as advancements have been made in the field of artificial intelligence. More than a thousand artificial-intelligence researchers cosigned an open letter calling for a ban on autonomous weapons this summer, including big names like Tesla CEO Elon Musk and scientist Stephen Hawking.
Musk announced last week the creation of a new nonprofit research company, OpenAI, of which he is cochair. OpenAI's goal is to "advance digital intelligence in the way that is most likely to benefit humanity as a whole"— staying in-line with his previous stance on ensuring that AI advancements are heading in a safe direction.
Questions regarding the future of AI will only become more important as Russia and China make advancements with the creation of a robot army.
According to Defense One, Russian Strategic Missile Forces announced that it would deploy armed sentry robots capable of selecting and destroying targets with no human in or on the loop at five missile installations in March 2014.
Additionally, Vyacheslav Khaitov — deputy director general of Russian defense contractor Uralvagonzavod — said it plans to show prototypes of its new combat robots within the next two years, according to RT.
"We will be able to show prototypes in 1.5 to two years. We are gradually moving away from crewed machines," he said in October.