The researchers, based in 30 countries, said last week that they would refrain from visiting KAIST, one of South Korea's top universities, until it promised not to develop AI weapons without "meaningful human control."

HUBO, a multifunctional walking humanoid robot performs a demonstration of its capacities next to its developer Oh Jun-ho, professor at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) during the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, January 20, 2016.
HUBO, a multifunctional walking humanoid robot performs a demonstration of its capacities next to its developer Oh Jun-ho, professor at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) during the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, January 20, 2016. (Reuters Archive)

More than 50 artificial intelligence (AI) researchers have ended a boycott of KAIST, one of South Korea's top universities, after it agreed not to develop "killer robots" under a partnership with a defence company.

KAIST and Hanwha Systems, one of two South Korean makers of cluster munitions, launched their defence and artificial intelligence project in February.

The researchers, based in 30 countries, said last week that they would refrain from visiting KAIST, hosting visitors from the university, or cooperating with its research programmes until it promised not to develop AI weapons without "meaningful human control."

KAIST responded within hours, saying it had no plans to develop either such systems or "lethal autonomous weapons systems and killer robots."

Boycott organiser Toby Walsh, a professor at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, said on Monday it was being rescinded given KAIST's "swift and clear commitment to the responsible use of artificial intelligence in the development of weapons."

"We initially sought assurances in private from the university more than month ago about the goals of their new lab. But the day after we announced the boycott, KAIST gave assurances very publicly and very clearly," he said.

Representatives from more than 120 UN countries are meeting in Geneva on Monday to debate the challenges posed by lethal autonomous weapons, dubbed "killer robots" by critics. 

Source: Reuters