Automated Decision Research event:
- Regulating AI: Algorithmic systems, human rights, and national security loopholes: Automated Decision Research will hold its first virtual expert roundtable event with Francesca Fanucci, Senior Legal Advisor at the European Center for Not-for-Profit Law, next Friday, 22nd September, at 12.30pm CET. The session will feature a presentation and discussion session, and participants can submit questions for discussion. Register for the event here.
Autonomy in weapons systems, and AI in security and defence
- International: Reaching Critical Will’s UNGA First Committee briefing book: Autonomous Weapons: The 2023 edition of Reaching Critical Will’s UNGA First Committee Briefing book is out now. The chapter on autonomous weapons, by Stop Killer Robots, calls on states to ‘promote, co-sponsor and vote in support of a resolution on autonomous weapons that broadens the international debate on this issue’, and to ‘Recognise in national statements that autonomy in weapon systems presents serious challenges to ethics, law, security, and the protection of civilians.’ Read the full Briefing Book here.
- US/International: US defence chief insists world ‘nowhere close’ to existential AI threat: At Defence and Security Equipment International, one of the world’s largest arms fairs, held in London this week, Dr Craig Martell, the US defence department’s new chief digital and AI officer, responded to a reporter asking ‘will the US military allow AI to make life and death decisions? By saying “Well, if I have my way, we won’t,” said Dr Martell. “There will always be a commander’s decision-making that deploys these systems.”’ However, it is not clear to what extent a commander’s decision-making would be involved in autonomous weapons and actual targeting decisions. The US is one of a few countries which does not support the negotiation of new rules on autonomous weapons.
- Caribbean: The Caribbean should ban lethal autonomous weapons: Following the adoption of the landmark CARICOM Declaration on Autonomous Weapons Systems last week, Sir Ronald Sanders, Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to the United States and the Organization of American States, writes that ‘Autonomous weapons pose a clear and present danger to the Caribbean. Action to ban them should be seriously considered now.’
- US/International: Finally ending America’s Forever War, Part II: Just Security features a piece by Harold Hongju Koh, Sterling Professor of International Law at Yale Law School and a legal advisor to the US Department of State, who argues that ‘emerging technology in the form of more advanced drones and increasingly autonomous weapons systems must be strictly regulated. Doing so requires significantly strengthening the laws of LAWS (Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems) at both the international and the domestic levels.’
- India: Army develops multi-utility legged equipment. Here’s how it works: The North-Tech Symposium 2023 took place in India this week. This piece covered by the Hindustan Times highlights two types of equipment that were showcased at the symposium. One is the Multi Weapon Engagement System (Anti Drone System) that is designed to ‘shoot down drones’, with two modes: in autonomous mode, it would detect and track the drone itself, and allow the operator to kill the target. In manual mode, it can be used for a survillance. The other system is the remote-controlled four-legged Multi-utility legged equipment (MULE) that has payload capacity and is equipped with a camera and radars.
- Taiwan: AI regulation necessary, bureau says: The Legislative Research Bureau in Taiwan has called for ‘rules regarding artificial intelligence’s (AI) military use.’ The Bureau has suggested the incorporation of these rules in a new legislation, as well as adding them into the existing Defence Act in the country.
- US: Mass. bill proposed to ban sales and operation of weaponized robots: A legislative proposal filed by state representative Lindsay Sabadosa and Senator Michael Moore in Massachusetts seeks to ‘ban the manufacture, sale, or operation of a robot or drone with an attached weapon.’ This proposed ban does not cover ‘US military, defense contractors, or law enforcement bomb squads’ and further reporting indicates that the legislation includes ‘banning the sale and use of weapons-mounted robotic devices, banning the use of robotic devices to threaten or harass, and banning the usage of robotic devices to physically restrain an individual.’
- Several reports on DSEI 2023: The Defense and Security Equipment International held at London featured a number of weapon manufacturers exhibiting systems that featured varying degrees of autonomy. A few exhibits to note include Bae System’s Nautomate, an autonomous control system that integrates on surface and subsurface vehicles, was run for the first time as an uncrewed platform. Forbes reports on an advanced drone system, the ‘Rotem Alpha’, (unveiled at the London DSEI show this week). The loitering munition is developed by the Israeli defense firm IAI and is said to have ‘one of the most advanced capabilities in its class’. The keynote speech of General Sir Patrick Sanders, Chief of the General Staff, UK noted that the British army’s investment in AI is extensive with ‘25 projects underway across the Army and more starting each week.’ He further said that the ‘approach to data will define our ability to adopt Artificial Intelligence at pace and scale for whole force benefit, in a human-centric, trusted and responsible manner.’ Meanwhile, the UAE’s EDGE Group said that it had ‘showcased an array of our cutting-edge intelligent autonomous and robotic systems, offering a glimpse into the exciting future of defence and security’.
- International: EDGE Group’s Milrem Robotics Unveils UGV equipped with Hunter 2-S Swarming Drones: At DSEI, EDGE Group unveiled its THeMIS Combat unmanned ground vehicle (UGV), equipped with the HALCON HUNTER 2-S swarming loitering munition. Jüri Pajuste, Defence R&D Director of Milrem Robotics, said that ‘Units can manoeuvre the THeMIS Combat with Hunter 2-S drones closer to the enemy line. This allows them to engage closer targets faster or venture farther behind the lines to find suitable targets. Deploying robotic systems across enemy lines is considerably faster and more efficient than using manned units for the same task’.
Facial recognition, biometric identification, surveillance
- UK: For migrants under 24/7 surveillance, the UK feels like ‘an outside prison’: In 2022, the U.K. Home Office rolled out a new pilot policy — to track migrants and asylum seekers arriving in Britain with GPS-powered ankle tags. Coda Story features the story of Sam, who came to the U.K. as a refugee when he was a small child and has lived in Britain ever since. Now in his thirties, he was recently threatened with deportation and was made to wear a GPS ankle tag while his case was in progress.
- India: E-surveillance records of lawful interception ‘highly classified’, minimal data maintained: MHA to Delhi HC: This week the the Delhi High Court heard a plea ‘challenging a decision of the Central Information Commission in January 2022 which had accepted the MHA’s stand that the data sought by the petitioner Apar Gupta (co-founder of Internet Freedom Foundation) had been destroyed.’
- International: UN Cybercrime Treaty Talks End Without Consensus on Scope And Deep Divides About Surveillance Powers: The Electronic Frontier Foundation reports on the reintroduction of provisions which were initially omitted from the zero draft of the UN Cybercrime Treaty given widespread concerns of unchecked surveillance. It raises a question if ‘a broadly-scoped treaty potentially legitimizing draconian surveillance powers for investigations of acts deemed criminal that target vulnerable communities and free expression and containing few human rights protections should be adopted by the UN at all.’
AI, algorithms and autonomy in the wider world
- US: Artificial Intelligence Emerges as a Union-Buster: The American Prospect reports on the introduction of a chatbot named Tessa by National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) to replace its helpline to ‘support people struggling with eating disorders.’ Tessa was soft launched in May this year, but major problems emerged in its functioning soon after the launch due to its lack of empathyv while communicating. Abbie Harper, a helpline volunteer said that ‘AI cannot provide empathy because it has no lived experience.’ Post discovery of these issues with the chatbot, NEDA decided to shut down both the helpline and the chatbot, with the Helpline Associates United Union describing this as a union busting act.
- US/ International: There’s never been a more important time in AI policy: This piece by the MIT Technology Review highlights the surge of legislative and jregulatory initiatives in the field of artificial intelligence in the US. Alex Engler, a fellow at the Brookings Institution warns against ‘misdirection trick’ by the AI industry which position the harms of surveillance, privacy and discriminatory algorithms as risks of a distant future instead of the fact that they are present realities.
- International: Unhinged Conspiracies, AI Doppelgangers, and the Fractured Reality of Naomi Klein: In this piece, Kate Knibbs, a senior writer with WIRED reports on a conversation with Naomi Klein, Co-Director of Centre for Climate Justice, University of British Columbia about her latest book Doppelganger. The book covers an array of scenarios which presently focus on creating alternate realities or ‘doppelgangers worlds.’ One major contributing factor among these is the use of algorithms and generative AI to use people’s data and replicate it through a machine, replacing the original human labor that was used to train these systems.
- Virtual Event: Humanities Now- Ethics in the age of artificial intelligence: In a series of events by Rice University titled ‘Humanities Now’, Robert Howell, professor and chair of the Department of Philosophy in the School of Humanities will discuss ‘ethics in the age of artificial intelligence.’ This event is scheduled for 18 September in a hybrid mode. The in-person attendance is at capacity, though registrations are open to attend the event virtually.
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