Autonomy in weapons systems, and AI in security and defence
- US: Does Military AI Research at Universities ‘Benefit Humanity’? This piece in Inside Higher Ed discusses U.S. Department of Defense funding of university research projects related to autonomy in weapons systems in the United States, and quotes Human Rights Watch’s Bonnie Docherty, who notes that ‘At the university level, scientists and academic researchers can take a stand by adopting voluntary guidelines, codes of conduct or standards of their own against these weapons that raise legal, ethical and moral concerns’.
- Israel and Gaza: The algorithmically accelerated killing machine: Professor Lucy Suchman, a member of the International Committee for Robot Arms Control, writes on Israel’s ‘mobilization of algorithmic intensification to accelerate target production’ through the use of the target recommendation system Habsoro. This piece is also available on Stop Killer Robots’ Medium blog.
- US: Pentagon Puts Out Call for Swarming Attack Drones That Could Blunt a Taiwan Invasion: USNI News reports that the Defense Innovation Unit put out a ‘solicitation for companies to submit pitches for small unmanned surface vehicles.’ The solicitation request calls for drones to ‘autonomously transit through contested areas, loiter in assigned areas, detect surface threats and then sprint to at least 35 knots to intercept enemy vessels.’
- Russia/Ukraine: Robots Are Fighting Robots in Russia’s War in Ukraine: Wired reports on the use of unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) by Russia and Ukraine, noting that ‘these robots are largely remote-controlled by humans—there’s little autonomy—and operate over ranges of a few kilometers’, but that it is likely that there will be experiments with autonomy in future.
- UK: UK must ‘exploit’ AI opportunities whilst remaining morally sound, top military chief says: In an interview with Forces News, the UK Commander of Strategic Command, General Sir Jim Hockenhull, ‘stressed the benefits of AI in helping analysts identify targets, specifically in terms of ‘pace and accuracy’, adding that “it’s also helping us in terms of moving our analytical capabilities up the value chain”.’ He also stated that ‘We make decisions which could involve people being killed. If you’re making those decisions, you need surety that you’re making those decisions accurately and properly.”Therefore, it’s important that when we bring AI into those decision-making chains, that we understand how the AI is working and what the AI is doing in that sense.’
- International: Setting the guardrails for AI in weapons: This piece argues that ‘if we consider military uses of AI in the same conversations as other concerns about AI, we can more effectively address many of these issues. The weaponisation of AI presents some of the greatest risks of AI use.’
- Japan/US: Japan and the US Collaborate on AI Research for Military Drones: Japan Times reports on an agreement between Japan and US with the aim to ‘revolutionize airborne combat by merging state-of-the-art artificial intelligence and machine learning with advanced unmanned air vehicles.’ These UAVs are planned to be collaborated along with a fighter jet development deal between Japan, Italy and UK.
Facial recognition, biometric identification, surveillance
- UK: Facial recognition cameras in supermarkets ‘targeted at poor areas’ in England: The Guardian reports that ‘Facial recognition cameras installed by a supermarket chain to tackle shoplifting disproportionately target people in poorer areas, according to a privacy rights group.’
- US: US Senators seek balance between facial recognition benefits, risks for investigations: Biometric Update reports that the ‘U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee dedicated a large portion of its latest hearing on the use of artificial intelligence in criminal investigations to exploring the risk of discrimination by law enforcement using facial recognition.’ Despite the ‘ongoing revelations about police misconduct in cases where facial recognition is used and people are wrongly arrested,’ Miami Police Department Assistant Chief Armando Aguilar testified to ‘higher rate of solved cases when detectives use AI tools’ based on a Florida International University study.
- UK: UK lawmakers say live facial recognition lacks a legal basis: This piece by The Register reports a communication by the House of Lords’ Justice and Home Affairs Committee to the Home Secretary James Cleverly. ‘The Committee calls for a clear legal foundation for using LFR, a framework for regulating the deployment of the technology and independent scrutiny of these processes.’ Further reporting by DIGIT News says that the letter outlines ‘specific demands such as an LFR training programme, national regulation and guidelines of extensive crowd-screening activities, pre-deployment communication practises, and embedded explainability features to mitigate the risk of human error.’
- EU: Could the EU’s Artificial Intelligence Act increase mass surveillance systems?: Euronews reports on the vote by EU countries on the final text of the EU’ AI Act this Friday. The piece expresses concerns about the wide array of uses allowed under the act for facial cognition and other biometric systems.
AI, algorithms and autonomy in the wider world
- India: Auditing AI: What is it and why does it matter for India?: This piece in the Observer Research Foundation highlights the challenges to auditing AI systems being deployed by the private sector and by government services. With imminent risks of these systems exemplifying bias, the authors say that ‘without clear audit practices as well as standards and regulatory guidance, any assertions about an AI product getting audited will be difficult to verify and is likely to aggravate, rather than mitigate, harm and bias.’
- US: We Found That Landlords Could Be Using Algorithms to Fix Rent Prices. Now Lawmakers Want to Make the Practice Illegal: ProPublica reports on a legislation set to be introduced which ‘would make it illegal for property owners to contract with companies that coordinate rent prices and housing supply information. The legislation would also bar two or more rental owners from coordinating on such information.’ This move is seen to stem from a previous investigative report by ProPublica in 2022 on this issue which led ‘tenants to file dozens of federal lawsuits against scores of the nation’s biggest landlords alleging violations of antitrust law.’
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