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War Mongering For Artificial Intelligence

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War Mongering For Artificial Intelligence


Submitted by Dr. Binoy Kampmark

The ghost of Edward Teller must have been doing the rounds between members of the National Commission on Artificial Intelligence.  The father of the hydrogen bomb was never one too bothered by the ethical niggles that came with inventing murderous technology.  It was not, for instance, “the scientist’s job to determine whether a hydrogen bomb should be constructed, whether it should be used, or how it should be used.”  Responsibility, however exercised, rested with the American people and their elected officials.

The application of AI in military systems has plagued the ethicist but excited certain leaders and inventors.  Russian President Vladimir Putin has grandiloquently asserted that “it would be impossible to secure the future of our civilization” without a mastery of artificial intelligence, genetics, unmanned weapons systems and hypersonic weapons.

Campaigners against the use of autonomous weapons systems in war have been growing in number.  The UN Secretary-General António Guterres is one of them.  “Autonomous machines with the power and discretion to select targets and take lives without human involvement,” he wrote on Twitter in March 2019, “are politically unacceptable, morally repugnant and should be prohibited by international law.”  The International Committee for Robot Arms Control, the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots and Human Rights Watch are also dedicated to banning lethal autonomous weapons systems.  Weapons analysts such as Zachary Kallenborn see that absolute position as untenable, preferring a more modest ban on “the highest-risk weapons: drone swarms and autonomous chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear weapons”.

The critics of such weapons systems were far away in the Commission’s draft report for Congress.  The document has more than a touch of the mad scientist in the bloody service of a master.  This stood to reason, given its chairman was Eric Schmidt, technical advisor to Alphabet Inc., parent company of Google, which he was formerly CEO of.  With Schmidt holding the reins, we would be guaranteed a show shorn of moral restraint.  “The AI promise – that a machine can perceive, decide, and act more quickly, in a more complex environment, with more accuracy than a human – represents a competitive advantage in any field.  It will be employed for military ends, by governments and non-state groups.”

In his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee on February 23, Schmidt was all about “fundamentals” in keeping the US ascendant.  This involved preserving national competitiveness and shaping the military with those fundamentals in mind.  But to do so required keeping the eyes of the security establishment wide open for any dangerous competitor.  (Schmidt understands Congress well enough to know that spikes in funding and outlays tend to be attached to the promotion of threats.)  He sees “the threat of Chinese leadership in key technology areas” as “a national crisis”.  In terms of AI, “only the United States and China” had the necessary “resources, commercial might, talent pool, and innovation ecosystem to lead the world”.  Within the next decade, Beijing could even “surpass the United States as the world’s AI superpower.”

The testimony is generously spiked with the China threat thesis.  “Never before in my lifetime,” he claimed, “have I been more worried that we will soon be displaced by a rival or more aware of what second place means for our economy, our security, and the future of our nation.”  He feared that such worries were not being shared by officials, with the DoD treating “software as a low priority”.  Here, he could give advice on lessons learned in the spawning enterprises of Silicon Valley, where the principled live short lives.  Those dedicated to defence could “form smart teams, drive hard deliverables, and move quickly.”  Missiles, he argued, should be built “the way we now build cars: use a design studio to develop and simulate in software.”

This all meant necessarily praising a less repressible form of AI to the heavens, notably in its military applications.  Two days of public discussion saw the panel’s vice chairman Robert Work extol the virtues of AI in battle.  “It is a moral imperative to at least pursue this hypothesis” claiming that “autonomous weapons will not be indiscriminate unless we design them that way.”  The devil is in the human, as it has always been.

In a manner reminiscent of the debates about sharing atomic technology in the aftermath of the Second World War, the Committee urges that the US “pursue a comprehensive strategy in close coordination with our allies and partners for artificial intelligence (AI) innovation and adoption that promotes values critical to free and open societies.”  A proposed Emerging Technology Coalition of likeminded powers and partners would focus on the role of “emerging technologies according to democratic norms and values” and “coordinate policies to counter the malign use of these technologies by authoritarian regimes”.  Fast forgotten is the fact that distinctions such as authoritarianism and democracy have little meaning at the end of a weapon.

Internal changes are also suggested to ruffle a few feathers.  The US State Department comes in for special mention as needing reforms.  “There is currently no clear lead for emerging technology policy or diplomacy within the State Department, which hinders the Department’s ability to make strategic technology decisions.”  Allies and partners were confused when approaching the State Department as to “which senior official would be their primary point of contact” for a range of topics, be they AI, quantum computing, 5G, biotechnology or new emerging technologies.

Overall, the US government comes in for a battering, reproached for operating “at human speed not machine speed.”  It was lagging relative to commercial development of AI.  It suffered from “technical deficits that range from digital workforce shortages to inadequate acquisition policies, insufficient network architecture, and weak data practices.”

The official Pentagon policy, as it stands, is that autonomous and semi-autonomous weapons systems should be “designed to allow commanders and operators to exercise appropriate levels of human judgment over the use of force.”  In October 2019, the Department of Defence adopted various ethical principles regarding the military use of AI, making the DoD Artificial Intelligence Centre the focal point.  These include the provision that, “DoD personnel will exercise appropriate levels of judgment and care, while remaining responsible for the development, deployment, and use of AI capabilities.”  The “traceable” principle is also shot through with the principle of human control, with personnel needing to “possess an appropriate understanding of the technology, development processes, and operational methods applicable to AI capabilities”.

The National Commission pays lip service to such protocols, acknowledging that operators, organisations and “the American people” would not support AI machines not “designed with predictability” and “clear principles” in mind.  But the note of warning in not being too morally shackled becomes a screech.  Risk was “inescapable” and not using AI “to solve real national security challenges risks putting the United States at a disadvantage”.  Especially when it comes to China.

Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne.  Email: bkampmark@gmail.com


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Adam Prisbit

IDF lead the world in artificial AI military applications, missile technology, electronic warfare EVERYTHING. The Israeli made electronic warfare system for F-35 (american version removed) is so advance it can detect radio wave from 1000km away!! and JAM CRIPPLY S400 radar and blind the most advance radar

Ashok Varma

What kind of a desperate idiot upvotes themselves on every idiotic comment?

Simon Ndiritu

If that was the truth, they would be flying over Caracas or Pyongyang if not Tehran. Respect your ignorance and spare us.

Adam Prisbit

But IDF did fly over TEHRAN with F-35 UNDETECTED by most5 advance s300 radar!

Simon Ndiritu

Links?, when?

Jimmy Jim


Faisal Al Al Mahdi

no, please, it is not. Jesus(as) said the truth shall set you free. answer false hood with truth . The truth of Jesus and the prophets, peace on them.


I too have a “radio wave detector” that can detect radio waves from across the galaxy …. my mom gave it to me on my 10th birthday …. it’s called a RADIO.

First radars don’t operate in the radio wave part of the EM spectrum … they operate in microwave frequencies.

Second you don’t even have a basic understanding of how these air defence systems work. they listen passively until it’s time to engage a target THEN they turn on active radar that can be tracked to a location. Once the active radar is turned on it doesn’t take a secret “radio wave detector” to find them … however that’s why they put these things on wheels. By the time you lick your wounds and organize a SEAD attack the SAM is long gone.

Pave Way IV

Military AI = digital psychopathy. I would expect Israel to excel in such efforts.

Faisal Al Al Mahdi

This is delusional. Israel should be cautious and try for peace. It is ringed by between 200,000 and half a million missiles many are accurate to 1 meter and have stealth capabilities. F35 wont be much good if there is no airbase or fuel available. These are the end times but humans have a chance to change their behaviour. stop following Satanic ways and try for peace. God (swt) is giving you a chance at each turn of events . Can you not see by His signs of plague and pestilence (corona means crown in Latin and latin languages, the white horse of pestilence has a crown to symbolise the disease that will destroy this civilization). As Imam Mahdi (AS) has told us their is no such thing as coincidence in prophecy.

Adam Prisbit

It is in bible prophecy that Israel wins the war against God (Iran/proxy) and Magog (Russia/Syria/China)

johnny rotten

If they build it in Yankeestan they will have to rename it Artificial Dementia, remember AD and not AI.

Ashok Varma

The problem is that the Anglo-Zionist warmongers only have the Wahhabi Arabs and Ukraine to push their agenda of global wars and conflict. As long as the cancer of Israel survives the world will never see peace or justice.

Faisal Al Al Mahdi

The cancer is Satan. His followers of Zionism, capitalism and antiChrist America and its vassals like Europe. Imam Mahdi saviour of Earth and reborn Jesus and the 313 returned prophets which includes Krishna, Zoraster, the wonderful prophet Mani and Buddha, peace on them all, will battle the last war on earth and eventually destroy Satan and his followers. The Mahdis will fill this earth with justice and peace as it is now filled with injustice and tyranny and all peoples will have the same share of resources. Oh Lord, God bring us closer to the truth and have mercy on our human family, Amen

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