China has presented a proposal to the United Nations for the first time to regulate the military application of artificial intelligence (AI), as its competition with the United States over the dual-use technology heats up.
On Monday, Li Song, China’s Ambassador for Disarmament Affairs, said the document focuses on “research, development, deployment, and use of AI for military applications and proposes solutions on how to develop and use AI technology in the military field.”
On Monday, the document was presented to the UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons’ sixth review meeting in Geneva.
China has invested billions in the sector over the years, particularly since the government announced the “New General AI Development Plan” in 2017, which aims to make China the world leader in AI by 2030.
According to experts, AI will be at the heart of the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) aim to become a “world-class” military capable of competing with the United States in the coming decades.
According to Chinese official materials, the incorporation of AI means the PLA will become more “intelligent alongside mechanization and informatization.”
AI-driven technologies are already being used by the PLA.
According to the tabloid Global Times, the PLA Air Force has begun to use AI as simulated opponents in pilots’ aerial combat training so that pilots can hone their decision-making and fighting skills against fast-calculating computers.
“In addition to efficiently training pilots, AIs are expected to be an integral part of China’s future warplanes, assisting pilots with combat decisions,” according to the tabloid.
China appears to be attempting to level the playing field among countries with powerful AI capabilities in a paper submitted to the United Nations on Monday.
“In terms of strategic security, countries, particularly major countries, must develop and apply AI technology in the military field in a prudent and responsible manner, refrain from seeking absolute military advantage, and avoid deepening strategic miscalculation, undermining strategic mutual trust, escalation of conflicts, and threatening global strategic balance and stability,” according to the document.
The position paper stated, “One particular concern is the long-term impacts and potential risks of military applications of AI technology in such aspects as strategic security, governance rules, and ethics.”
“We need to step up our efforts to regulate military AI applications in order to avoid and manage potential risks,” the report concluded.