AI-Influenced Weapons Need Better Regulation

Wed, 30 Mar 2022 04:00:00 GMT
Scientific American - Technology

The weapons are error-prone and could hit the wrong targets

The technology behind some of these weapons systems is immature and error-prone, and there is little clarity on how the systems function and make decisions.

To avoid the loss of innocent lives and the destruction of critical infrastructure in Ukraine and beyond, we need nothing less that the strongest diplomatic effort to prohibit in some cases, and regulate, in others, the use of these weapons and the technologies behind them, including AI and machine learning.

While similar to facial recognition tools, AI technologies for military use have different implications, particularly when they are meant to destroy and kill, and as such, experts have raised concerns about their introduction into dynamic war contexts.

AI is employed in the development of swarming technologies and loitering munitions, also called kamikaze drones.

Rather than the futuristic robots seen in science-fiction movies, these systems use previously existing military platforms that leverage AI technologies.

Crucially, introducing AI into decision-making by militaries could lead to overrealiance on the technology, shaping military decision-making and potentially escalating conflicts.

If recent social media discussions among the AI community are any indication, the developers, largely from the private sector, who are creating the new technologies that some militaries are already deploying are largely unaware of their impact.

Tech journalist Jeremy Kahn argues in Fortune that a dangerous disconnect exists between developers and leading militaries, including U.S. and Russian, which are using AI in decision-making and data analysis.

In general, states with more technologically advanced militaries have been unwilling to accept any constraints on the developments of AI technology.

The war in Ukraine should be a wake-up call regarding the use of technology in warfare, and the need to regulate AI technologies to ensure civilian protection.

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