An arms race is what happens when two opposing groups (for example - warring nations) compete with one another in an escalating game of deploying more and more effective killing technology. It's actually fundamentally a biological phenomenon, since we see it in nature all the time (i.e. prey evolve to become faster, the predators evolve greater speed, and on and on). We saw it before in the Cold War with nuclear armament (thanks to this, we now have the capability to kill ourselves).
There's all sorts of brouhaha right now over lawyers/academics/human rights activists trying to prevent autonomous drones from developing the ability to kill people. They're trying to legislate all these roadblocks, but it doesn't matter. Ask yourself the following question: what happens when China makes a drone that can kill on its own?
You think the Americans won't immediately do the same thing?
Here's the CEO of Enlitic, a machine learning company, discussing this very thing in a Reddit AMA:
(he's the smart person I stole this idea from)
I do think that this is one of the threats, although not the most immediate one. I believe that it is inevitable that somebody will create a fully autonomous weaponised drone. The reason this is inevitable, is that in any war situation, where there are two powers that have semiautonomous drones battling, whoever gives their drones the most autonomy will win the battle. Therefore, there will be a very strong incentive to make your drones are little more autonomous than the other guys'. This will rapidly lead to a number of iterations of increasing autonomy, eventually resulting in one of the sides removing all human input from the kill decision. At this point, it will be necessary for the other side to do the same thing if they want to win the war.
people I admire
Bret Easton Ellis