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The bipartisan bill aims to prevent AI from launching nuclear weapons

Written by Brett Wilkins via Common Dreams,

In the name of “protecting future generations from potentially devastating consequences,” a bipartisan group of US lawmakers introduced legislation on Wednesday aimed at prevent artificial intelligence from launching nuclear weapons without significant human control.

The Block Nuclear Launch by Autonomous Artificial Intelligence Act, introduced by Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Reps. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), Don Beyer (D-Va.) and Ken Buck (R-Colo). .)—claims that “AI should not make any decision to launch a nuclear weapon.”.

The proposed legislation acknowledges that the Pentagon’s 2022 Nuclear Posture Review states that current U.S. policy is to “maintain a human being ‘in the know’ of all critical actions to inform and execute the President’s decisions to initiate and terminate with the use of nuclear weapons”.

The bill would codify that policy so that federal funds could not be used “to launch a nuclear weapon [or] select or engage targets with the aim of dropping “nuclear bombs”.

“As we live in an increasingly digital age, we must ensure that humans alone have the power to command, control and launch nuclear weapons, not robots.Markey said in a statement. “We must keep humans in the loop about making life-or-death decisions to use lethal force, especially for our most dangerous weapons.”

Buck argued that “while US military use of AI may be appropriate to enhance national security, using AI to deploy nuclear weapons without a human chain of command and control is reckless, dangerous, and should to be prohibited”.

According to the 2023 AI Index Report, an annual assessment released earlier this month by the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence, 36% of AI experts respondents to worry about the possibility that automated systems “could cause nuclear-level catastrophes.”

The report followed a February assessment by the Arms Control Association, an advocacy group, that AI and other emerging technologies, such as lethal autonomous weapons systems and hypersonic missiles, pose a potentially existential threat that underscores the need of measures to slow down the pace of armaments.

“While we all try to come to grips with the pace at which AI is accelerating, the future of AI and its role in society remains unclear,” Lieu said in a statement introducing the new bill .

AI is amazing and has made our lives better. It can also kill us. No matter how smart the AI ​​is, it can never have control over nuclear weapons.

I introduced bipartisan legislation with @RepKenBuck @RepDonBeyer and Sen. @EdMarkey to require a human to launch any nuclear weapon.

— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) April 26, 2023

“It is our job as members of Congress to take a responsible view when it comes to protecting future generations from potentially devastating consequences,” he continued. “That’s why I’m pleased to introduce the Bipartisan, Bicameral Blockbuster Autonomous Nuclear Launch AI Act, which will ensure that whatever happens in the future, a human being has control over the use of a nuclear weapon, not a robot.”

“AI can never be a substitute for human judgment when it comes to launching nuclear weapons.” Lieu added.

Although dozens of countries support the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, none of the world’s nine nuclear powers, including the United States, have signed it, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has sparked fears of nuclear conflict that had been largely dormant since the Cold War. .

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