UK Parliament to probe use of AI-powered weapons
The House of Lords Artificial Intelligence in Weapons Systems Committee has launched a call for evidence as part of its inquiry into the use of autonomous weapons.
Autonomous weapons systems (AWS) are defined as systems that can select and attack a target without human intervention.
Established in January this year, the committee said that it intended to explore the ethics of these systems, how they can be used safely and reliably, whether they risk escalating wars more quickly and their compliance with international humanitarian law.
Some believe that AWS could revolutionise warfare, suggesting that they would be faster, more accurate and more resilient than existing weapons systems and could limit the casualties of war.
But there are concerns about the ethics of these systems, how they can be used safely and reliably, whether they risk escalating wars more quickly, and about their compliance with international laws.
The UK Government is a major player in these negotiations and the inquiry will examine whether there’s sufficient UK government policy in this area.
Committee chair Lord Lisvane has already commented in a blog this week on The House website that, at present, government policy on this matter is “somewhat sparce”.
He added: “The UK does not have an operational definition of AWS systems. The Government’s current policy position is that weapons systems which use AI should have “context-appropriate human involvement”, and that the UK does not have fully AWS and does not intend to develop them.”
The state of international policymaking in this area – much of which has been focussed on restricting their use through limitations or outright bans – will also be a focus of interest for the committee.
Lisvane said the committee was looking for a wide-range of perspectives from experts and nonexperts in its call for evidence, responses for which must reach them by 10 April 2023.
The war in Ukraine has seen tech play a vital role and we reported last month on how AI could play a significant role in future conflicts with AI systems predicting enemy movements and analysing large amounts of data to identify potential threats.
Subscribe to our Editor's weekly newsletter