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Regulating Military Application of AI in China

China proposed a position paper on regulating the military applications of Artificial Intelligence (AI). The position paper is China’s first proposal to regulate the military application of AI and the first of its kind under the framework of the United Nations (UN) Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.

The document focuses on important issues, such as the research and development, deployment and use of AI for military applications, and proposes solutions on how to develop and use AI technology in the military field.

The rapid development and broad application of AI technology have profoundly changed the way people work and live, bringing “great opportunities as well as unforeseeable security challenges to the world. One particular concern is the long-term impacts and potential risks of military applications of AI technology in such aspects as strategic security, rules on governance and ethics.

AI-related security governance is a common challenge. With the wide application of AI in various fields, there are widespread concerns regarding the risks of military applications and even AI’s weaponisation. As the world has multifaceted challenges, countries need to embrace a vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable global security, seek consensus on regulating military applications of AI through dialogue and cooperation, and establish an effective governance regime to prevent serious harm or even disasters caused by military applications of AI to mankind.

China needs to enhance the efforts to regulate military applications of AI to forestall and manage potential risks. Such efforts will help promote mutual trust among countries, safeguard global strategic stability, prevent an arms race and alleviate humanitarian concerns. It will also contribute to building an inclusive and constructive security partnership and striving for the vision of building a community in the AI field.

AI can be applied in almost all fields of the military, including on land, at sea, in the skies, in space and also in electronic space. AI could be applied to radar systems so they can make adjustments according to the environment, as they learn constantly to improve their ability.

AI could build an even more digital and intelligent battlefield than today and change the rules of warfare completely as it has the potential to gather, analyse data, and make decisions more efficiently than human brains. In addition to AI functions on tactical platforms like warplanes and warships, there could be strategic uses of AI to assist military leaders in making crucial decisions based on big data in real-time that could not be processed by humans.

The position paper gave several suggestions to regulate the military use of AI technology. China called on countries that develop and apply AI in the military field to act prudently and responsibly. They should also follow the principle of “AI for good,” and relevant weapons systems must be kept under human control, while efforts must be made to ensure human supervision at all times, including implementing necessary human-machine interactions across the entire life cycle of weapons.

As reported by OpenGov Asia, When placed in the context of China’s military-civil fusion strategy, however, Beijing’s drive to innovate using its civilian universities and enterprises is in lockstep with its drive to accelerate innovation for its defence sector. The intersection of military-civil fusion and China’s innovation strategy puts international commercial and academic research partnerships focused on dual-use technologies at risk of contributing to China’s defence capabilities.

China’s companies are increasingly expected to become involved in military scientific and technological research, production, and maintenance, and military-civil fusion. The country’s innovation strategy sheds light on the critical role of universities and the commercial sector in China’s civilian and national defence developments.

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