Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Santa Monica, CA, United States (4E) – The likelihood exists that Artificial Intelligence (AI) will trigger a nuclear war by 2040, according to the RAND Corporation, a U.S. non-profit global policy think tank based in California.
A RAND study warns that AI could erode geopolitical stability and remove the status of nuclear weapons as a means of deterrence. More significantly, AI will find a way to bypass the legitimate fear that “Mutually Assured Destruction” or MAD is the inevitable outcome of a nuclear war pitting the United States and its nuclear-armed allies against Russia and China. For example, advanced AI sensory technologies might neutralize counterstrike capabilities, thereby invalidating MAD.
MAD has maintained world peace since the end of World War II but the potential for AI and machine-learning to decide military actions will destroy the assurance of stability, warned the RAND report The study foresees AI being capable of goading human actors into make catastrophic decisions. Worse, AI might induce nuclear-armed states such as Russia into launching pre-emptive strikes against the United States to gain bargaining power, even if they have no intention of carrying out an attack.
The RAND study highlights the dangers of using AI to take military decisions rather than the threat posed by autonomous drones and “killer robots,” otherwise known as Lethal Autonomous Weapons or LAWs.
“Some experts fear that an increased reliance on artificial intelligence can lead to new types of catastrophic mistakes,” said Andrew Lohn, co-author of the paper along with Edward Geist.
“There may be pressure to use AI before it is technologically mature, or it may be susceptible to adversarial subversion. Therefore, maintaining strategic stability in coming decades may prove extremely difficult and all nuclear powers must participate in the cultivation of institutions to help limit nuclear risk.
The report emphasizes that advances in AI “are enabling previously infeasible capabilities, potentially destabilizing the delicate balances that have forestalled nuclear war since 1945.” It said AI has the potential to exacerbate emerging challenges to nuclear strategic stability by 2040 even with only modest rates of technical progress.
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