UN official deeply concerned about AI weapons

The head of the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs says the UN wants to develop awareness about the impact of the military use of artificial intelligence, or AI. The official hopes that such awareness will speed up discussions about the need for international regulations.

Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Nakamitsu Izumi was interviewed by NHK. AI weapons have reportedly been used in the Gaza Strip and Ukraine. Various countries are currently developing such arms.

Nakamitsu said she feels a sense of crisis, as AI weapons are actually being developed for wartime use. She said she fears that AI weapons technology will bring about a significant change in the ways in which wars are conducted and fought.

Concerns are particularly growing about Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems, or LAWS. Those weapons systems select and attack targets without human instructions.

Last year, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on member states to adopt a legally-binding framework for LAWS by 2026, as no international rules currently govern them.

On that issue, Nakamitsu referred to gaps between countries that are already developing the technology and those that are not. She said major military powers are trying to take the lead in the development of LAWS. She added that those countries want to gain an advantage in the negotiations.

She also mentioned the possibility that terrorists and other organizations could abuse AI.

She stressed that it is important to make all countries and people understand that the misuse of AI could have very negative consequences.