US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping are scheduled to meet at the APEC summit in San Francisco, with one of the key agenda items being the regulation of artificial intelligence in military applications. The leaders are anticipated to sign a deal limiting the use of AI, not only in autonomous weaponry like drones but also in the control and deployment systems of nuclear warheads.
Tensions between the US and China have heightened in recent months, marked by the US military severing communications with China after a spy balloon incident in February. Additionally, the two nations have taken opposing stances in the Ukraine conflict and the Israel-Hamas conflict. Despite these tensions, the APEC summit presents an opportunity for Biden and Xi to address common concerns, particularly regarding the responsible use of AI in the military.
Both the US and China were signatories to a February agreement in The Hague, endorsing the responsible use of AI in the military. Earlier in November, at a summit in Bletchley Park, UK, nations, including the US and China, agreed to collaborate in managing the threats posed by AI technology.
The growing concern centres around the integration of AI into military systems, especially autonomous weapons capable of selecting and engaging targets independently. While current nuclear weapons systems are human-controlled, there is an ongoing discussion about automating certain processes. Experts, like Oriana Skylar Mastro from Stanford University’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, acknowledge the need to address the potential automation of nuclear weapons systems.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken, during a recent visit to Japan, emphasised a general principle that artificial intelligence should not be in control of or make decisions about the use of nuclear weapons. The upcoming meeting between Biden and Xi aims to find common ground on the regulation of artificial intelligence (AI) in military applications and reduce tensions between the two nations.