Attendee interact with a SoftBank Group Corp. Pepper humanoid robot at the COP28 Climate Conference.

The recent boardroom drama over the leadership of OpenAI—the San Francisco–based tech startup behind the immensely popular ChatGPT computer program—has been described as a corporate power struggle, an ego-driven personality clash, and a strategic dispute over the release of more capable ChatGPT variants. It was all that and more, but at heart represented an unusually bitter fight between those company officials who favor unrestricted research on advanced forms of artificial intelligence (AI) and those who, fearing the potentially catastrophic outcomes of such endeavors, sought to slow the pace of AI development.

At approximately the same time as this epochal battle was getting under way, a similar struggle was unfolding at the United Nations in New York and government offices in Washington, D.C., over the development of autonomous weapons systems—drone ships, planes, and tanks operated by AI rather than humans. In this contest, a broad coalition of diplomats and human rights activists have sought to impose a legally binding ban on […]

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