Artificial Intelligence and Arms Control

by   Paul Scharre, et al.

Potential advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) could have profound implications for how countries research and develop weapons systems, and how militaries deploy those systems on the battlefield. The idea of AI-enabled military systems has motivated some activists to call for restrictions or bans on some weapon systems, while others have argued that AI may be too diffuse to control. This paper argues that while a ban on all military applications of AI is likely infeasible, there may be specific cases where arms control is possible. Throughout history, the international community has attempted to ban or regulate weapons or military systems for a variety of reasons. This paper analyzes both successes and failures and offers several criteria that seem to influence why arms control works in some cases and not others. We argue that success or failure depends on the desirability (i.e., a weapon's military value versus its perceived horribleness) and feasibility (i.e., sociopolitical factors that influence its success) of arms control. Based on these criteria, and the historical record of past attempts at arms control, we analyze the potential for AI arms control in the future and offer recommendations for what policymakers can do today.


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