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UN chief warns AI could increase likelihood of nuclear wars

In this post:

  • António Guterres warned that AI expansion is making the threat of a nuclear war more likely.
  • The UN secretary general says humanity is sitting “on a knife’s edge”.
  • Guterres wants decisions on weapons use to be made ‘by humans, not machines’.

The rapid expansion of AI technology is making the threat of an all-out nuclear war more likely, UN secretary general, António Guterres, warned. In a recorded video, Guterres said humanity is sitting “on a knife’s edge” as nations race to build the most capable arms, putting lives in danger.

Also read: Employees claim OpenAI and Google DeepMind hiding AI risks

The UN chief’s cautionary video message was due to be played at the U.S. Arms Control Association (ACA) annual conference in Washington on June 7, the Guardian reports. Guterres pleaded with nuclear weapons states to “resume dialogue and agree that none will be the first to launch one.”

Guterres wants AI away from nuclear weapons

According to the secretary general, the systems built to prevent the “use, testing and proliferation of nuclear weapons” have weakened since the end of the cold war more than 30 years ago.

There are fears that as nations like the U.S. and Russia ramp up action to deter each other, they could turn to AI to ease nuclear launch procedures. Both countries reportedly have their intercontinental ballistic missiles on high alert, meaning they are ready to launch at a few minutes’ warning.

In his video address to the ACA, Guterres said:

“Humanity is on a knife’s edge; the risk of a nuclear weapon being used has reached heights not seen since the cold war. States are engaged in a qualitative arms race. Technologies like artificial intelligence are multiplying the danger.”

Guterres added that “all countries must agree that any decision on nuclear use is made by humans, not machines or algorithms.”

In 2022, the U.S., UK and France issued a joint statement expressing their commitment to ensuring that humans remained in control during nuclear launches. Russia and China have not made a similar commitment yet, according to industry media. The Federation of American Scientists estimates that the number of nuclear arms dropped from 70,300 in 1986 to 12,100 this year.

Scientists raise AI alarm

Guterres’ warning is not new. Many scientists have cautioned about the dangers of artificial intelligence in the past. A 2018 report by the Rand Corporation said the development of AI increases the risk of nuclear war. The report said that the integration of AI, machine learning, and big-data analytics will improve the ability of militaries to locate, track, target, and destroy a rival’s nuclear-deterrent forces.

Also read: Powerful AI threatens humanity: Why experts insist on a global moratorium

Others have also waded into the debate. For former Google product lead Bilawal Sidhu, the AI debate can either be treated like nuclear or it can be left open. He argued that an open-source AI would allow good actors to police the bad ones, minimizing risks.

In a previous interview with Newsweek, former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said AI is “as consequential” but “less predictable” than nuclear weapons. Kissinger believes that the risks of AI can be managed through international cooperation and regulation.


Cryptopolitan reporting by Jeffery Gogo

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