Dutch forum takes aim at ‘worrying’ AI uses in war

The Hague (AFP): Dutch officials urged the creation of clear definitions on how artificial intelligence can be used in war, as a conference billed as the first of its kind to tackle the issue opened on Wednesday.

The two-day meet in The Hague aimed at taking a first step towards international rules in regulating the use of AI on the battlefield in an agreement similar to those on chemical and nuclear weapons.

The United States and China were among 50 countries attending, with hopes set on a declaration on Thursday on the issue.

Russia has not been invited over the invasion of Ukraine.

“Together, we must seek common grounds on the definition of these technologies, starting with two actually quite basic questions: what is AI and who is responsible for its actions?” Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra said in an opening address.

“AI is everywhere, it’s changing the way we live, it’s changing the way we work and it’s clearly changing the military,” he said.

Hoekstra used the example of building hit by a missile, saying “in a split second AI can detect its impact and where the survivors may be located.”

“Even more impressive, the AI could have intercepted the missile in the first place,” he said but added “AI also has the potential to destroy in seconds, and that’s worrying.”

Militarily, AI is already used for reconnaissance, surveillance as well as analysis and in the future could be used to pick targets autonomously just over the horizon.

These include so-called drone swarms and the use of AI in nuclear command and control systems.

Hoekstra said the effects of new technology was already visible following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine almost a year ago including drone and cyber attacks.

“We are also witnessing how Russia is violating humanitarian law in the most brutal way,” he added.

China was invited to the conference as a key player in tech and AI, Dutch officials said.

Ministers and high-ranking diplomats are at the so-called REAIM (Responsible AI in the Military Domain) summit along with tech firms and experts.