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Biden, Xi to Sign Deal Prohibiting AI in Drones, Nuclear Weapons: Report

US President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping will enter into an agreement to limit the use of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies in military weapons and equipment, according to a report by the South China Morning Post.

The deal is reportedly expected to be finalized and approved when the two leaders meet on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit later this week.

As part of the proposed agreement, AI will be prohibited in autonomous systems like drones, as well as systems used to control and deploy nuclear warheads.

Washington and Beijing have both expressed concerns about the unregulated use of AI in military systems amid rapidly evolving battlefield threats.

In February, the two nations were among the signatories to an agreement promoting the responsible use of AI for defense.

“It is essential to keep a human in the loop in nuclear command and control given some of the problems we’ve seen so far with AI,” military expert Bonnie Glaser told the South China Morning Post about the imminent AI agreement.

Ambitious Executive Order

On October 30, Biden issued an ambitious executive order aimed at reducing the risks AI poses to national security.

It stated that all developers of AI systems in the country must share the results of safety tests with the US government.

Several government agencies were also directed to set standards for testing and address related chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and cybersecurity risks.

“To realize the promise of AI and avoid the risk, we need to govern this technology,” Biden stressed. “In the wrong hands, AI can make it easier for hackers to exploit vulnerabilities in the software that makes our society run.”

In addition, US Vice President Kamala Harris announced the creation of the United States AI Safety Institute to develop and implement guidelines for responsible AI use.

Artificial Intelligence
Artificial Intelligence. Photo: Naval Information Warfare Center Pacific

AI Tech Race

For years, the US and China have been trying to stay ahead of each other in developing and fielding cutting-edge, AI-enabled defense systems.

Earlier this year, the Asian military superpower tested an AI-powered precision artillery shell capable of striking human-sized targets up to 16 kilometers (10 miles) away.

It also experimented on an AI-operated drone, saying it outsmarted a drone operated by a human pilot during an aerial clash.

For its part, the US has invested in several AI-related defense projects, including identifying potential producers of an AI-guided anti-armor artillery round.

The US Army also issued a sources sought notice for an AI system that can predict enemy actions, including potential battlefield tactics.

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