Can the US and China overcome mutual distrust to agree on rules for the military use of artificial intelligence?

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“The US is using artificial intelligence on weapon systems faster and more widely. It brings more threats to the world,” a senior People's Liberation Army official said on condition of anonymity during a security conference in Singapore. Told on the condition of

“And if the US uses artificial intelligence in a nuclear weapons system, what are the consequences? That should attract the world's attention.”

The PLA official also outlined Beijing's efforts to manage threats from the technology through the United Nations, as well as through Beijing's own proposals in the Global AI Governance Initiative launched last year.

The U.S. has sought to lead the way through a political declaration on the responsible military use of AI and sovereignty, involving more than 50 countries, not including China.

This technology has already been used on the battlefield in the Gaza and Ukraine conflicts.

Zhao Tong, a senior fellow in the nuclear policy program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said the US and China had to overcome several obstacles to address the issue, but “the main obstacle is the increasingly competitive bilateral relationship”.

The two countries held their first talks on AI in Geneva in early May, where US officials expressed concern about China's “misuse of AI” while Beijing criticized Washington for its “sanctions and repression”. But reprimanded.

Beijing is particularly reluctant to limit its military AI development because of its potential uses in any future conflict with Washington, Zhao said.

He added that the US-led declaration has “limited appeal” in China, which has broader objections to what it sees as Western constructs such as the rules-based international order.

In early May, U.S. State Department arms control official Paul Dean said in an online briefing that the U.S. has made a “very clear and strong” commitment that decisions about whether to deploy nuclear weapons will be made by humans alone. , and artificial intelligence never will. He demanded a similar statement from China and Russia.

The two sides have not yet discussed the military use of AI specifically, although broader threats from the technology were revealed at talks in Geneva, which were not attended by military representatives.

Sam Bresnick, a research fellow at the Georgetown Center for Security and Emerging Technologies, said: “While military AI is certainly an important topic, it is a new addition to an already robust suite of US and Chinese security issues, including Some appear to be more stressful than others.”

He said obstacles to an agreement to regulate military use of AI include a “lack of mutual trust” and “concerns about disclosing information about their capabilities … or AI-powered soldiers.” There is a desire not to limit system development and deployment as relevant technologies appear to evolve more rapidly.”

Senior Col. Zhou Qichao, deputy director of the National Defense Science and Technology Strategic Research Think Tank at the National University of Defense Technology, recently accused the United States of being “two-faced” about the conversation on AI.

He told nationalist newspaper Global Times that he only wanted to discuss the matter with China to learn more about its capabilities.

Admiral Rob Bauer, chairman of NATO's military committee, told a panel discussion at the Shangri-La Forum: “I am deeply concerned about the unrestricted use of new technologies on the battlefield… and because technology increases our capacity for destruction. is increasing, our ability to regulate is rapidly diminishing.”

He said that after the two world wars, there was a worldwide belief that great power struggles should not be fought again on the battlefield and that weapons systems needed to be organized and controlled.

“If the tectonic plates of power are shifting and the world is split into multiple parallel systems with different rules, can they coexist?” He added.

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