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Lords Committee takes evidence on the responsible development of AI weapon systems

Wednesday 14 June 2023 

At 3pm on Thursday 15 June the Lords Artificial Intelligence in Weapons Systems Committee will take evidence on how AI weapons systems can be developed responsibly and the impact the development of AI may have on nuclear weapons.

The Committee will hear from:

3pm

  • Stuart Russell, Professor of Computer Science at University of California, Berkeley

4pm

  • James Johnson, Lecturer in Strategic Studies at University of Aberdeen
  • Christopher King, Head of Weapons of Mass Destruction Branch at UN Office for Disarmament Affairs

The evidence session will be available to watch live or on demand on Parliament TV or in person in Committee Room 4, Palace of Westminster.

Possible questions include:

  • What international standards of practice on development, testing, and use of AI-enabled and autonomous weapon systems are needed to ensure compliance with IHL?
  • How concerned should we be about the possible use of AWS by non-state actors?
  • Does use of AI in weapons systems risk inadvertent escalation into a nuclear conflict?
  • How does the use of AI in Nuclear Command, Control and Communications affect the risk of nuclear ‘close calls’?
  • How could AI contribute to the testing of nuclear weapons, and what are the potential benefits and concerns?

Background:

Autonomous weapons systems have been defined as systems that can select and attack a target without human intervention. These systems could revolutionise warfare, with some suggesting that they would be faster, more accurate and more resilient than existing weapons systems and could limit the casualties of war.

However, concerns have arisen about the ethics of these systems, how they can be used safely and reliably, whether they risk escalating wars more quickly, and their compliance with international humanitarian law.

Throughout its inquiry the Committee will be looking at a wide range of issues surrounding autonomous weapons systems, including:

  • The challenges, risks and benefits associated with them.
  • The technical, legal and ethical safeguards that are necessary to ensure that they are used safely, reliably and accountably.
  • The sufficiency of current UK policy and the state of international policymaking on autonomous weapons systems

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