Rise of the Machines

A draft report submitted by a government-appointed panel says AI weapons development should not be banned in the U.S.

On Tuesday, the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (led by former Google Chief Exec Eric Schmidt) held a two-day public discussion and concluded that the United States needed to pursue the military applications of AI as a matter of national security. Former deputy secretary of defence Robert Work (NSCAI Vice-Chairman) argued that AI weapons would make fewer mistakes than human soldiers, and would therefore reduce casualties numbers caused by target misidentification. ‘It is a moral imperative to at least pursue this hypothesis,’ he said.

Since 2012, a non-governmental coalition called the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots has lobbied to ban AI weapons globally. Thirty countries including Brazil and Pakistan want a ban, according to the coalition’s website, and a United Nations body has held meetings on the systems since at least 2014. Mary Wareham, coordinator of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots coalition, said that the NSCAI’s focus on the need to compete with China and Russia’s AI programs ‘only serves to encourage arms races.’

The panel’s report also recommended the use of AI by intelligence agencies to improve data collection and requested $32 billion in annual federal funding for AI research. The commission is due to submit its final report to Congress in March.

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