Artificial Intelligence Militarization Ethics Problem
The A.I. arms race is entering the deep freeze 2022 to 2039.
For the U.S. Pentagon and National Defense Agency, keeping up with China and Russia in the AI arms race of military tactics while abiding by ethics is an impossibly challenging scenario. The A.I. arms race occurring today is fairly dangerous.
In the 2020s this arms race may realistically get out of control. It’s an existential danger for humanity. With Ukraine and Taiwan hotspots including potentially North Korea and Iran, geopolitics during the pandemic has been on a downward trajectory.
In February, 2020 the Defense Department has formally adopted five principles for the ethical development of artificial intelligence capabilities.
These were simply:
Responsible. DoD personnel will exercise appropriate levels of judgment and care, while remaining responsible for the development, deployment, and use of AI capabilities.
Equitable. The Department will take deliberate steps to minimize unintended bias in AI capabilities.
Traceable. The Department’s AI capabilities will be developed and deployed such that relevant personnel possess an appropriate understanding of the technology, development processes, and operational methods applicable to AI capabilities, including with transparent and auditable methodologies, data sources, and design procedure and documentation.
Reliable. The Department’s AI capabilities will have explicit, well-defined uses, and the safety, security, and effectiveness of such capabilities will be subject to testing and assurance within those defined uses across their entire life-cycles.
Governable. The Department will design and engineer AI capabilities to fulfill their intended functions while possessing the ability to detect and avoid unintended consequences, and the ability to disengage or deactivate deployed systems that demonstrate unintended behavior.
In December, 2021 the Pentagon issued further artificial intelligence (AI) ethics guidelines to safeguard access to the latest technology.
The Pentagon will require third-party developers to use these guidelines when building AI whether that AI is for an HR system or target recognition. Though while working BigTech companies, it’s clear that Palantir, Microsoft, C3.AI do not abide by serious regulations on A.I. that would protect humanity and safeguard military AI from becoming too powerful or potentially dangerous to trigger hostilities prematurely.
This is because Russia and China are ramping up their technological military warfare capabilities seeking the threat of simultaneous war on the two mentioned fronts. American economic dominance is likely coming to an end, even Ray Dalio agrees. This suggests that the Pentagon is likely already behind at the intersection of AI with cybersecurity, and using artificial intelligence for National Defense.
This is where A.I. ethics are likely being cut, just like we have witnessed with American BigTech, creating a toxic internet that’s poor for the mental health of consumers and the future of capitalism. These too are abuses of artificial intelligence at scale, when advertising is allowed to be the central hub of how Google and Facebook rule and lord over the internet’s communications and search capabilities. It’s a blatant misuse of algorithmic power and the centralization of talent and A.I. capabilities.
It would not be naïve to say that Artificial intelligence is the department's (DoD) top technology modernization priority. Yet DARPA has history of not producing technological advancements with ethical and humanitarian safeguards. American R&D is mostly about profit, rarely about proper safeguards or having much foresight about the future it’s creating.
The Pentagon and DoD claim that the “DIU’s RAI Guidelines provide a step-by-step framework for AI [artificial intelligence] companies, DoD [Department of Defense] stakeholders, and program managers that can help to ensure that AI programs align with the DoD’s Ethical Principles for AI and that fairness, accountability and transparency are considered at each step in the development cycle of an AI system.
It’s very difficult to feel secure with how the Pentagon and the DoD is partnering with American BigTech. It’s creating a scenario where companies are monetizing the geopolitical instability of the times we are living in where a monetary elite would have incentives for a world with more conflict and more advanced technologies with capabilities where A.I. would be closer to weaponizing itself against human beings.
Americans may feel they have no choice as China has tethered its own top firms very closely with government activities and long-term planning for global dominance. News narratives in the U.S. are now being more tightly controlled with the pandemic about myths of an economic recovery to try to artificially inflate consumer confidence. It’s patriot propaganda without being truthful to its own citizens.
For a free society, there’s a considerable degree of manipulation occurring on the American based internet, with misinformation and a failure of the Fed to recognize the impact of policy decisions on the future of wealth inequality. It’s no longer a system for the people, and that’s a problem for the future of democracy. BigTech remains unregulated and now partnering with the Pentagon, that’s a poor combination for good outcomes for the future of A.I.
The public has a trust problem with BigTech, but employees at BigTech also have a trust problem with the Pentagon and the DoD. Moreover globally smaller countries have trust problems with both China, Russia and the U.S. which mainly act in their own (feudalistic-authoritarian) self-interest. What happens then to the ethics and regulation of their greatest weapon, artificial intelligence? The EU alone does not have the power to regulate the future of A.I.
DIU launched a strategic initiative in March 2020 to implement the DoD’s Ethical Principles for Artificial Intelligence (AI) into its commercial prototyping and acquisition programs.
For over a year, DIU explored methods for implementing these principles with DoD partners in several AI prototype projects that cover applications including, but not limited to, predictive health, underwater autonomy, predictive maintenance, and supply chain analysis.
The military will have a Chief of AI position even. The Pentagon is creating a new position to lead its artificial intelligence efforts.
The chief digital and artificial intelligence officer, starting Feb. 1, 2022, will be based in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, reporting to the deputy defense secretary. and oversee three organizations the Defense Department leans on for emerging technology and talent: the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, the Defense Digital Service, and the chief data officer, according to a Dec. 8 memo.
Thousands of Google employees protested in 2018 when they found out about their company’s involvement in Project Maven -- a controversial U.S. military effort to develop artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze surveillance video.
Now Microsoft and Amazon work closely with the Pentagon among many other American tech companies. They are preparing a machine of war with A.I. to compete against other nations to the detriment of humanity, but in a system of capitalism governed by the profit motive, A.I. will only become more dangerous.
China is four times the population base of the United States and they are rapidly catching up in A.I. talent. Their consumer based A.I. is already as good as the U.S., working together with Russia they could topple the U.S. era of global dominance and have likely been trying to do just that in the last few years.
In 2022, I think we must remain skeptical that the DoD is capable of implementing responsible artificial intelligence and that the weaponization of AI remains a global existential risk for humanity without strict global regulation.
I have a growing interest in the field of A.I. ethics in an era where independent journalist are being jailed and even killed all around the world at record levels. We’ve never trusted the internet so little before.
I believe we may only be at the beginning of the dark side of surveillance capitalism ushered in by Silicon Valley now reaching a new phase with enterprise level augmented military A.I. We have to monitor what the Pentagon says and does and how China regulates A.I. today and in the years to come, since these types of things will inform the world our children will live in.