Artificial Intelligence (AI) in warfare has been growing rapidly. Several weapons now use integrated AI software to slowly reduce the number of soldiers in direct mortal peril. These weapon systems can target and attack anyone without human intervention. But, the growth of this technology is raising a few eyebrows. Several prominent scientists have already questioned the future of AI machinery simply because of the unpredictability.
Advantages of such weapons were discussed in a New York Times article published last year, which stated that speed and precision of the novel weapons could not be matched by humans. The official stance of the United States on such weapons, was discussed at the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) Informal Meeting of Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems held in 2016 in Geneva, where the U.S. said that "appropriate levels" of human approval was necessary for any engagement of autonomous weapons that involved lethal force. In 2015, numerous scientists and experts signed an open letter that warned that developing such intelligent weapons could set off a global arms race. A similar letter, urging the United Nations to ban killer robots or lethal autonomous weapons, was signed by world's top artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics companies in the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI) held in Melbourne in August.
A coordinated international coalition of non-governmental organizations dedicated to bringing about a preemptive ban of fully autonomous weaponry -- The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots -- was started in April 2013. A breakthrough was reached in 2016 when the fifth review conference of the United Nations Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) saw countries hold formal talks to expand their deliberations on fully autonomous weapons. The conference also saw the establishment of a Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) chaired by India's ambassador to the U.N., Amandeep Gill. According to Human Rights Watch, over a dozen countries are developing autonomous weapon systems.
China has pledged billions of dollars to boost the development of artificial intelligence in the country's first technology research drive of its kind, highlighting Beijing's commitment to expanding the horizons of the nascent field. During an annual meeting of parliament, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang told legislators Sunday that the nation would invest in new technologies and their associated markets. The Association of the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence's annual meeting, which took place last month, was rescheduled when the original dates in January conflicted with the Chinese New Year, displaying the vast clout of Chinese input on the international conference. In response to tensions between Beijing and Washington over territorial disputes in the South China Sea, China has reportedly begun developing "semiautonomous" weapons capable of making their own tactical decisions against predesignated targets.
Some of the items on display included bombs, air defense systems and unmanned vehicles for both the air and ground that Sputnik News called robots. The new tank debuted at Army-Expo 2016 and pulls out all the stops when it comes to war, including a 30mm automatic gun, a 7.62mm machine gun and guided antitank missiles, Sputnik reported. While most of the weaponry featured at Army-Expo 2016 was on the larger scale, an updated version of the golden standard of handheld machine guns in Russia was also on display, as the Kalashnikov assault rifle got a makeover of sorts. The Pantsir-S1 anti-aircraft missile system combines "short-to-medium rage surface-to-air missile and anti-aircraft artillery weapon system," Global Times reported.