26th May 2023 – (Washington) U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton believes that killer robots could be here today and may replace actual soldiers on the battlefield in the not-too-distant future. The Massachusetts Democrat is picking a fight with the Pentagon, claiming that the Defence Department hasn’t done much to address concerns about the role of artificial intelligence (AI) in the military.
Moulton likened the potential threat of killer robots to that of nuclear weapons and warned that the U.S. is losing ground to foreign rivals. As a top Democratic voice on military matters and a member of the House Armed Services Committee, Moulton believes that the Pentagon needs to do more to set ethical rules and prevent an automated or unintended atrocity on future battlefields.
The DoD recently updated its autonomous weapons directive to align with the department’s AI Ethical Principles policy. Military officials have repeatedly emphasised that there will always be a “human in the loop” when it comes to autonomous weapons killing people. But Moulton thinks that’s not enough. He believes that the military must lead by example and set ethical rules to prevent an automated or unintended atrocity on future battlefields.
Moulton also believes that Congress should be doing more to ensure that we’re all still living and breathing when killer robots become a reality. In an interview with Digital Future Daily, he said that “the Pentagon is a $760 billion enterprise, and right now, we’re spending half as much as China is on AI as a percentage of our defense plan.”
Moultonis the first lawmaker to make a direct comparison between AI and nuclear weapons, stating that serious adversaries like China and Russia are in a real competitive race with the U.S. on AI. He warns that the US is losing leverage to help set international standards. Moulton recently called for a “Geneva Convention on AI” to limit the risks posed by AI in military situations.
In the interview, Moulton expressed concerns about the military’s data classification system, stating that the U.S. deletes more military sensor data than any other country in the world due to a lack of storage capacity. He believes that building more storage capacity for the sensor data collected by the military is crucial for moving on AI quickly and safely.
Regarding AI in the National Defense Authorisation Act, Moulton believes that Congress needs to jumpstart thinking on AI but not set up an office that exerts too much control over the services. He encouraged the chiefs to go fast on AI and figure things out, as the Pentagon Secretary is not expected to lead on this matter.