US commission recommends against banning AI military weapons
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US commission recommends against banning AI military weapons

The National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (NSCAI) produced a draft final report on Tuesday, stating that the US should pursue the use of artificial intelligence (AI) technology for military use and development. The government-appointed panel considered the benefits and risks of autonomous weapons this week in a public discussion.

The National Defense Authorization Act established NSCAI in 2018 as an independent commission “to consider the methods and means necessary to advance the development of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and associated technologies to comprehensively address the national security and defense needs of the United States.” The panel, led by former Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt, said in the draft report for Congress that AI weapons should not be discounted, citing the positive impact of their use on national security and strategic vulnerability.

The report stated that AI technology can help the US navigate its military superiority and the threats posed by cyber-attacks and disinformation campaigns. The panel’s Vice Chairman Robert Work, former deputy secretary of defense, predicted the beneficial use of AI-enabled capabilities, stating that the weapons are expected to make fewer mistakes than humans combatants. The panel emphasized global competitors’ development of AI concepts and pushed for America’s development of AI to transform and revolutionize military affairs and the practice of intelligence.

The panel’s discussion led into a conversation about the ethical risks of developing AI technology, with a particular focus on human rights and warfare. Notably, a coalition of non-governmental organizations and 30 countries have pushed for a treaty banning autonomous weapons capabilities. The coalitions argue that “human control is necessary to judge attacks’ proportionality and assign blame for war crimes.” Still, the panel’s report contends that “AI applications will help militaries prepare, sense and understand, decide, and execute faster and more efficiently.”

The commission’s recommendations will ultimately be non-binding and the final draft is due to be submitted to Congress in March.