It is said, the only way to win a battle with nuclear weapons in play is to not engage at all, well, at least that has been the case for years now since the world II ended. Unfortunately, artificial intelligence has come into the scene and with it; a new study by RAND says AI might help humanity wipe each other using nuclear weapons.
But let’s put artificial intelligence aside for a moment. The greatest regret remains to be how and why man was able to develop weapons of mass destruction. As in, the discovery of nuclear weapons can be said to be one of the biggest mistakes ever done by humanity.
A single launch could wipe an entire city, and based on this capacity and potential, it’s obvious that those who want to control the world have been investing heavily in these weapons. But worst of all is that, now, rival countries are using AI to spy on each other.
The Cost of Using AI to Snoop on Each Other’s Nuclear Inventory
Initially, developers recommended the use of machine intelligence for simple surveillance or spying, like alerting shop attendants about suspicious moves that may suggest possible shoplifting. That is, AI can raise an alarm in case a shopper wants to leave the premise with unpaid goods, by analyzing the barcode number of the product right in one’s pocket.
But today, governments are adopting this technology to do much serious tasks, and the most targeted role is spying on rival countries. There is a lot to snoop from your opponent as that is among the strategies of winning. In fact, currently, the US is working on over 140 projects intended to boost its surveillance capabilities. Reports also say China and Russia have been doing that already, but the fear is what happens when rivals begin to worry about the capacity of each other?
That’s How and Why AI Might Trigger War
Talking of nuclear weapons in terms of capacity or destructiveness, that’s where the time bomb is, it’s not really about autonomous weapons anymore. It’s about how just knowing that your enemy is more or less equipped that might spark issues. Simple logic, a government that has been lying low, when it manages to snoop into her rival’s weapon inventory and discovers that it now has more weaponry strength and potential, and can actually overpower the opponent, why would it not try to take its “new position?”
In short, AI is giving militaries the capacity to monitor the opponent – to uncover the type of weapons they are investing in, mark its strongholds, and connections to the outside worlds. Such information can trigger itchy fingers and panic, and could lead to the mentality of “we need to stick first because if they begin we’ll not be able to respond to the punch.”
In the study, explaining how computers can trigger a potentially destructive gut feeling, Lt.Col Stanislaw Petrov, sits on his char commander, monitoring how the systems crunched data from radar and satellites looking for signs of a missile launch, in the quest to counter the attacks. In no time, a siren goes off and the button goes red with the demand: “Launch!”
He notices that the purported attacker only has five missiles in their portfolio according to the spy record, and wonders how they could dare the United States with such little capacity. “This must be a false signal, the Lt shouts?” The computer hears that and it insists, “New attack on the way,” but the Lt.Col makes a phone call and confirms, “That’s a false signal, it is not logical,” and the study continues to explain…
Science Fiction or Not, This May Be A Reality Soon
There is no denying that already, there is an arms race among certain nations, and this was triggered by sayings like, “Whoever wants to rule the world, must lead in AI,” said by Russia’s president early this year. Key technology experts like the late Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, Jack Ma and Billy Gates might also have helped to create that mentality that artificial intelligence is the only way to rule the world in future.
Back in 2016, Prof. Hawking said AI might be used by a few to oppress or enslave the larger population. In another scenario, he said the technology might advance to a point where it could rule over humanity. Musk, on the other hand, has always reserved his theory that machine intelligence could spark a world war in many ways.
Now, according to the study, the fear in this technology is not just vested in its capability to power autonomous weapons, the issue is, it could also help to raise anxiety, inferiority, and feelings that might trigger itchy imaginations that could tempt people to take wrong options, like the nuclear route. In other words, when a team notices that it doesn’t have what it takes it might result in investing more in these dangerous weapons which ideally makes the world more unstable.
The Other Side of the Coin
While it’s clear how easy this technology could destabilize peace there is also that other side of the coin where it can as well help in ending wrangles. With the same notion, after rivals realize each other’s capability they might not want to engage. As in, they’ll understand that the opponent is able to return a punch harder and that they’ll not have the opportunity to answer back, because they’ll not be there.
While the nuclear tension is rising higher and higher with inventions of new technologies, other scientists hope that AI will help rivals to be afraid of each other and settle with the saying, “The only way to nuclear safety is not to engage at all.”