In a significant move towards regulating the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in warfare, President Joe Biden is reportedly set to finalize an agreement with Chinese President Xi Jinping — a move that would give China a significant advantage, experts say.
The deal, to be signed at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in San Francisco, aims to limit AI applications in nuclear weaponry and autonomous military systems like drones, Fox News reported.
The anticipated agreement between the U.S. and China marks a critical step in addressing the ethical and strategic implications of AI in combat. This move comes amidst heightened tensions between the two nations, with disputes ranging from espionage accusations to military activities in the South China Sea.
Phil Siegel, founder of the Center for Advanced Preparedness and Threat Response Simulation (CAPTRS), emphasized the necessity of such a pact to Fox News Digital, suggesting that the deal could focus AI use in warfare more on reconnaissance than on active combat. Siegel also advocated for the inclusion of other major powers, such as Russia, in similar agreements.
"I predict they will make a deal on AI-driven autonomous weapons on the battlefield should only be for reconnaissance and not fighting; otherwise, the world will become a very dangerous place," Siegel said. "I think there is more to come, and it is necessary to keep us from devolving to continual war."
However, Christopher Alexander, Pioneer Development Group's chief analytics officer, critiqued the deal, arguing that it surrenders a strategic advantage held by the U.S. over China in AI technology. Alexander raised concerns about the impact of this decision on critical decision-making processes, especially regarding nuclear weaponry.
"This is an incredibly poor decision," Alexander said in remarks to Fox News. "To begin with, China lags behind the U.S. in AI capabilities; so the Biden administration just ceded a strategic advantage. Additionally, AI helps reduce stress to improve decision-making, which is crucial in preventing a poor decision to release nuclear weapons."
Both the U.S. and China have been actively integrating AI into their military operations, recognizing the technology's potential in combat scenarios. Earlier this year, the two countries were part of a broader agreement endorsing responsible AI use in military applications.
Samuel Mangold-Lenett, a staff editor at The Federalist, expressed skepticism about China's commitment to such agreements. He cited China's track record with the Paris Climate Agreement, suggesting that the nation might not adhere to limitations on AI in nuclear weapons. Mangold-Lenett urged the U.S. to continue developing AI systems for national security, anticipating similar actions from potential adversaries.
As global leaders in technology and military power, the U.S. and China's stance on AI use in warfare could set a precedent for other nations. The deal, while addressing growing global concerns over AI in combat, also reflects the ongoing strategic chess game between the world's two largest economies.