Russian President Vladimir Putin has revealed his deep appreciation for artificial intelligence by claiming that any nation who is able to become a global leader in the field will "become ruler of the world".
Speaking to an assembly of students in Russia ahead of the new school year he was quoted by RT as saying: "Artificial intelligence is the future, not only for Russia, but for all humankind. It comes with colossal opportunities, but also threats that are difficult to predict. Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become the ruler of the world."
The race for next-level AI is viewed as key to helping countries create more powerful and advanced developments in a number of areas from manufacturing to agriculture, plus banking and research in medical technology. But perhaps more significantly, AI is being eyed up as the future frontiers of warfare.
Artificially-intelligent robots and machines capable of being used as weapons has become a highly-invested area of research for military forces around the world, however it is also a hot topic of ethical debate with tech figureheads such as Elon Musk frequently expressing fear of what the consequences could be.
Putin claimed: "If we become leaders in this area, we will share this know-how with the entire world, the same way we share our nuclear technologies today."
Musk replied on Twitter claiming that those leading countries in AI – namely China and Russia – would 'most likely cause world war three'.
Tesla's founder Musk has been vocal in his concern over how AI could be weaponised and has called for a ban on the use of autonomous "killer robots" by joined over 100 technology leaders in signing a petition to the United Nations warning lethal autonomous weapons threaten to become the third revolution in warfare".
The rise of drone technology has allowed military powers to develop plans for the unmanned aircraft to fly in swarms either as an attack force, reconnaissance or fly alongside human-controlled fighter jets to provide assistance during aerial battles.
Russia itself has recently revealed that its sixth-generation fighter jet be available in a manned and robotic version by 2025 with both flying in formations with 20-30 drones armed with microwave weapons and enemy radar-suppressing equipment.
While the development of AI-powered weapon systems would potentially help save lives by replacing the role of a human soldier in some combat situations, on the flip side experts fear that it would also enable militaries to engage in warfare at a much lower cost, less risk and at far greater ease, which could lead to even more conflicts.
"Once developed, they will permit armed conflict to be fought at a scale greater than ever, and at time scales faster than humans can comprehend," the letter to the UN read.
Fears over hacking robotic weaponry to perform against its programmed objective has also been raised while the question over a computer's moral judgement when deciding when to fire on a target is of concern.
"These can be weapons of terror, weapons that despots and terrorists use against innocent populations, and weapons hacked to behave in undesirable ways. We do not have long to act. Once this Pandora's box is opened, it will be hard to close".