“There should be some room to debate the use of AI in relation to lethal autonomous weapons systems,” said Paul Triolo, an expert on US-China policy issues at the Albright Stonebridge Group, a strategic advisory firm.
Efforts to ban lethal autonomous weapons aimed at people have so far stalled in UN debates, but a new resolution, announced this month, could give further impetus to the bans.
For starters, the United States and China must agree on the definition of these types of weapons, according to the Triolo verdict. But he believes the talks will inevitably be complicated by US sanctions, which directly target China’s ability to develop advanced AI. In my opinion, the talks “should include a debate on US controls on hardware for advanced computing,” he emphasized.
They must agree
Andrew Reddie, an associate professor of public policy research at UC Berkeley who studies emerging military technologies, says the shared benefits that contain the risks of AI weapons are likely. which goes beyond mistrust between the US and China: “”There is a long history of adversarial cooperation in search of risk reduction that serves the interests of both countries in an agreement,” he said.
Reddie said any such agreement would be symbolic and non-binding, given the distance separating the two parties.
Even if lethal autonomous weapons are banned, the careless use of AI can destroy military systems. The rapid adoption of low-cost, autonomous drones by forces fighting in Ukraine highlights the disruptive potential of the technology and has led many militaries, including the US, to rethink their approach to technology.
The US and Chinese militaries recently resumed their talks. Beijing suspended military talks after Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan, the democratic island it considers an inalienable part of China and is also home to the world’s most advanced semiconductor maker, TSMC.
In February, after the United States shot down a Chinese spy balloon that crossed North America, the Pentagon stated that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was unable to contact his Chinese counterpart through a special hotline.
Recent incidents in the South China Sea highlight the need for communication between the US and Chinese militaries. In October, the US Department of Defense released images and videos that it said showed Chinese fighter jets conducting unsafe maneuvers near US aircraft in the region. This month, the Chinese Defense Ministry released its own images of what it called a “violation and provocation by a US warship” in the South China Sea.
The danger will be greater
Rogier Creemers, an associate professor at Leiden University who studies China’s technology policy, believes that AI systems can complicate, or make more dangerous, such incidents. “What you don’t want is an automated decision system that doesn’t have the ability to stay calm and collected about these things.”.
China, however, has signaled its willingness to continue dialogue. At the Xiangshan Forum in China in October, Zhang Youxia, vice chairman of the Chinese Central Military Commission, stated: “We will deepen strategic cooperation and coordination with Russia and are ready, on the basis of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence, and win-win cooperation, to improve military relations with the United States.”