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Oppenheimer biographer opposes AI for nuclear weapons

Words by Tess Becker

There’s been a social media frenzy for “Barbenheimer,” the juxtaposition of the Barbie movie and the WWII biopic Oppenheimer coming out the same day. While the memes have been hilarious the subject material couldn’t be more different.

Oppenheimer is a movie about the creation of the nuclear bomb, which to date is the most destructive weapon ever made. A biographer whose Pulitzer prize-winning book inspired the new movie Oppenheimer has expressed support for a US senator’s attempt to bar the use of artificial intelligence in nuclear weapons launches.

“Humans must always maintain sole control over nuclear weapons,” Kai Bird, author of American Prometheus, said in a statement reported by Politico. “This technology is too dangerous to gamble with. This bill will send a powerful signal to the world that the United States will never take the reckless step of automating our nuclear command and control.”

Ed Markey, a Democratic Massachusetts senator is the one trying to keep AI away from nuclear concerns, worried that it might remove some of the “guardrails” that human control has.

The director of the film, Christopher Nolan held similar sentiments. 

 “International surveillance of nuclear weapons is possible because nuclear weapons are very difficult to build. Oppenheimer spent $2bn and used thousands of people across America to build those first bombs,” he said. “It’s reassuringly difficult to make nuclear weapons and so it’s relatively easy to spot when a country is doing that. I don’t believe any of that applies to AI.”

Charity check-in

At Smiley Movement, we like to elevate the work of charities across the world. Here are three charities whose causes align with the themes in this article.

American Civil Liberties Union. This is one of the largest civil liberty defense organizations in the US. Find out more and support them here

The Trevor Project. They focus on suicide prevention and mental health support for queer youth. Support them here.

Human Rights Campaign. This is one of the largest equality-focused organizations in the US. Find out more

This article aligns with the UN SDG Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions.

This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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