Lawmakers propose a bill to ban AI from launching nuclear weapons singlehandedly. Yes, you are right, this already has been banned but there are logical thinking and reasons as to why this policy should be affirmed.
AI Launching Nuclear Weapons
American Department of Defense policy already has banned AI from launching nuclear weapons autonomously. But in the wake of fears of AI that are spurred by a plethora of potential threats, a bipartisan group of lawmakers has now decided to make sure that it really can’t.
Just as announced in the early parts of this week, Senator Edward Markey (D-MA) as well as Representatives Ted Lieu (D-CA), Don Beyer (D-VA), and Ken Buck (R-CO) have now introduced the Block Nuclear Launch by Autonomous AI Act, which will reportedly “prohibit the use of Federal funds to launch a nuclear weapon using an autonomous weapons system that is not subject to meaningful human control.” The act in question would go on to codify Pentagon rules that are already in existence for nuclear weapons, which as of 2022 read:
“In all cases, the United States will maintain a human ‘in the loop’ for all actions critical to informing and executing decisions by the President to initiate and terminate nuclear weapon employment.”
What the New Bill Proposes
The bill, which as you should know states that no form of autonomous system without meaningful oversight of a human can launch a nuclear weapon or “select or engage targets” with the slight intention of launching one. “Any decision to launch a nuclear weapon should not be made by artificial intelligence,” the text states.
Why A Bill When It’s Already Banned?
If this already is forbidden, why then the introduction of the bill? The sponsors of the bill note that a 2021 National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence report recommended that affirming a ban on autonomous nuclear weapons launches, not only to stop it from happening inside the US government but also to spur similar commitments from China and Russia.
Publicizing the bill calls draws user attention to the potential dangers of current-generation autonomous artificial intelligence systems, which is an going concern in Congress and the tech world in general. And as shown by the press release, it offers a chance to highlight the sponsors’ other nuclear non-proliferation efforts such as a recent bill restricting the power of the president to unilaterally declare nuclear war.
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