Military use of AI: Japan should take the lead in creating international rules

Applications of AI

Who wants to entrust the decision of whether or not to take a human life to a weapon equipped with artificial intelligence (AI)? Measures to prevent murder by AI must be taken immediately.

AI-based weapons are already being used on the battlefield.

Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the militaries of both countries have launched drone strikes using AI technology to select targets, and the Israeli military has reportedly used similar AI weapons to identify Hamas fighters in the Gaza Strip.

Drones equipped with AI have the advantage of not requiring remote control, which reduces the need for human intervention. They can also quickly collect and analyze vast amounts of information on the battlefield and use it in operations.

Currently, AI is used in weapons to select targets, but the decision on whether to attack is made by humans. However, in the near future, it is highly likely that lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS) will appear, in which AI will decide which targets to attack without human intervention.

Once activated, LAWS are completely free of human control. If an AI weapon makes a mistaken decision, it could cause unintended, devastating damage, such as a false hit or indiscriminate attack.

The actual use of LAWS is absolutely unacceptable from both a humanitarian and ethical standpoint.

Last December, the United Nations adopted a General Assembly resolution calling on member states to report their views on LAWS.

In response, Japan submitted a document to the UN stating that it had no intention of developing LAWS and that the development and use of such weapons systems should not be internationally recognized.

The United Nations plans to collect opinions from member states, including Japan, and compile a report this summer.

The international community has been discussing possible regulations on LAWS for the past decade, but there is significant disagreement among member states and agreement remains a long way off.

Developing countries and others are calling for a complete ban on the development of LAWS, but countries involved in the development of AI weapons, such as Russia and Israel, are reluctant to ban their development through a treaty. The United States argues that a moderate code of conduct for LAWS should be established first, and that development should be restricted by a treaty later.

LAWS, which have the potential to fundamentally change the nature of warfare, are said to have the potential to bring about a military revolution comparable to that achieved by nuclear weapons.

As the only country to have suffered atomic bombings, Japan should stress the importance of regulating inhumane weapons and take the lead in creating international rules. Regardless of whether LAWS are regulated by a code of conduct or a treaty, it is desirable for many military powers to participate in any regulatory framework in order to ensure its effectiveness.

(From the Yomiuri Shimbun, July 7, 2024 issue)

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