The Next Fear on A.I.: Hollywood’s Killer Robots Become the Military’s Tools
Artificial intelligence (A.I.) is advancing at a rapid pace, and with it comes new fears and concerns. A.I. software has the potential to upend war, cyber conflict, and even decision-making on employing nuclear weapons. The Pentagon and the White House are struggling to navigate these new technologies and limit the risks associated with them. However, recent developments suggest that Hollywood’s fictional portrayals of autonomous killer robots and computers that lock out their human creators may soon become a reality.
The Agenda: Arms Control
When President Biden announced a sharp restriction on selling the most advanced computer chips to China in October, he sold it as a way to give American industry a chance to restore its competitiveness. However, at the Pentagon and the National Security Council, there was a second agenda: arms control. If the Chinese military cannot get the chips, the theory goes, it may slow its effort to develop weapons driven by artificial intelligence. That would give the White House, and the world, time to figure out rules for the use of A.I. in sensors, missiles, and cyberweapons, and ultimately guard against some of the nightmares conjured by Hollywood.
The Fog of Fear
Recently, the fog of fear surrounding the popular ChatGPT chatbot and other generative A.I. software made the limiting of chips to Beijing look like just a temporary fix. Pentagon officials, speaking at technology forums, highlighted their concerns around a six-month pause in developing the next generations of ChatGPT and similar software. They argued that the Chinese and Russians won’t wait, so we must keep moving forward.
The Tension Felt Throughout the Defense Community
The tension felt throughout the defense community today is palpable. No one knows what these new technologies are capable of when it comes to developing and controlling weapons, and they have no idea what kind of arms control regime, if any, might work. There are worries that such advanced A.I. could empower bad actors who previously wouldn’t have easy access to destructive technology. It could also speed up confrontations between superpowers, leaving little time for diplomacy and negotiation.
While the industry is not stupid and is already making efforts to self-regulate, concerns remain around what AI safety rules would look like. Some preliminary efforts have been made to put guardrails into the system. ChatGPT and other similar bots will not answer questions about how to harm someone with a brew of drugs, how to blow up a dam, or how to cripple nuclear centrifuges- all operations the United States and other nations have engaged in without the benefit of artificial intelligence tools. However, blacklists of actions will only slow the misuse of these systems as few think they can completely stop such efforts.
The Grave Threat
The grave threat that A.I. poses to our society is evident, and the Pentagon and the White House must take action to safeguard the world against these dangers. There have been no treaties or international agreements developed to address the use of A.I. in military applications. It remains a challenge for the world’s superpowers to come together on the matter and figure out a plan of action.
- A.I. software has the potential to upend war, cyber conflict and decision-making on employing nuclear weapons.
- Recent developments suggest that Hollywood’s fictional portrayals of autonomous killer robots and computers that lock out their human creators may soon become a reality.
- There are concerns that such advanced A.I. could empower bad actors who previously wouldn’t have easy access to destructive technology.
The threat of A.I. military applications must be taken seriously, and the world’s leaders must come together to determine a plan of action. The Pentagon and the White House must work on developing proper regulations to ensure that these machines do not cause destruction and mayhem.
The use of A.I. in military applications is a complex issue fraught with potential danger. While a pause in development may be tempting, it is unlikely to address the problem completely. The world’s superpowers must come together, develop proper rules of engagement, and create a plan for the usage of autonomous weapons that does not put humanity at risk.