Artificial intelligence (AI) is rapidly transforming the world we live in, and the military is no exception. As such, delegates from the United States and China are set to attend a summit in the Netherlands to discuss the responsible use of AI in the military. This is the first of its kind, and 50 countries are expected to attend.
The conference comes at a time when interest in AI is at an all-time high thanks to the launch of OpenAI's ChatGPT program. However, it is unclear whether the attendees will agree to endorse the weak statement of principles being drafted by the Netherlands and co-host South Korea. The event will run from February 15 to 16 in The Hague, and organizers have excluded the Russian Federation due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, which will be a major topic of discussion.
The Dutch Foreign Minister, Wopke Hoekstra, stated that "this is an idea for which the time has come" and that the conference will be the first step in articulating and working towards what responsible use of AI in the military will look like. The event may be an early step towards someday developing an international arms treaty on AI, though that is seen as far off.
Limitations on the Use of AI in the Military
Leading nations have so far been reluctant to agree to any limitations on AI's use, as doing so might put them at a disadvantage. However, the summit will discuss other aspects of military AI, such as defining terms, how AI could safely be used to accelerate decision-making in a military context, and how it could be used to identify legitimate targets.
The summit will not replace the debate around the limitations on lethal autonomous weapons systems, which can kill without human intervention, that has been ongoing since 2014. The U.N. countries that belong to the 1983 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) have been discussing possible limitations on these weapons.
International Cooperation on AI
The U.S. Department of Defense will discuss potential for international cooperation at a presentation on Thursday, while the Chinese embassy in the Netherlands referred to a position paper in which China underlined the need to avoid "strategic miscalculations" with AI and to ensure it does not accidentally escalate a conflict.
"We are moving into a field that we do not know, for which we do not have guidelines, rules, frameworks, or agreements. But we will need them sooner rather than later," stated Hoekstra. The summit is an excellent opportunity for the world's leading nations to come together and start to develop guidelines and frameworks for the responsible use of AI in the military. The responsible use of AI can help to prevent unintended consequences, ensure that AI is not used maliciously, and maintain the safety of all involved.