Any development in the technology industry seems to have people concerned these days. In the case of AI development, that isn’t entirely unfounded either. Chinese officials are growing more concerned over how much attention this technology is getting as of late. In fact, they feat this “AI boom” will accidentally start the next major war between nations.
AI and Weapons are a Dangerous Mix
While there is a lot of future potential to be unlocked with artificial intelligence, jumping the gun is never an advisable course of action. Especially when it comes to integrating this technology into weapons and military installations. Although some automated military weapons already exist and are being sued today, this new “arms race” has Chinese officials concerned, for obvious reasons.
To put this in perspective, they consider the growing use of artificial intelligence as a threat to global peace. Those are the findings noted in Center for a New American Security’s recent report. Building autonomous weapons capable of “replacing” soldiers on the battlefield makes a lot of sense on paper. However, entrusting weaponry to make the actual decisions in such dire situations is not a thought most people feel comfortable with.
As is usually the case when discussions like these occur, there are a few “doomsday scenarios” on the table. In the worst case, it appears the current international norms determining how intra-country communication takes place will become outdated. Although that wouldn’t necessarily be the greatest concern, it can set a worrisome and potentially dangerous precedent. Potential consequences would involve confusion, conflict, and a global-scale war, if push came to shove.
It is equally important to put the current integration of AI into weaponry in its proper perspective. At this time, most of the autonomous weapons are drones. While they can still drop a bomb on targets if needed, they are not necessarily equipped to do so. The automation sequence primarily focuses on autopiloting. Surprisingly, it is China – of all countries – pursuing a more aggressive strategy right now. So much even that they contemplate introducing the autonomous use of lethal force.
One such drone model goes by the name of Blowfish A2. It is a Chinese model of autonomous drone which is being exported on a global scale for some time now. As such, it would appear the “race’ to bring more autonomous weapons into the mix has been heating up behind the scenes. For the time being, it appears China is the only country pursuing this aggressive approach, although it seems unlikely that would remain the case for much longer if true.
Until something major happens, it seems unlikely any artificial intelligence is capable of starting a war. Actions performed by autonomous weaponry can be interpreted in many different ways. Additionally, such technology has not been deployed on any meaningful scale as of yet, although that situation can change at any given time. It is a situation which deserves to be scrutinized moving forward, as the potential consequences can be very dire.