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date: 07 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter addresses the military promise of artificial intelligence (AI), which is increasing along with advances in deep learning, neural networks, and robotics. The influence of AI will be felt across the full spectrum of armed conflict—from intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance through to the offensive and defensive employment of lethal force. This is to say that AI is less of a weapon than it is a military enabler, and yet the public still liken the notion of AI in the military context with killer robots, arising from the fears made public by numerous academic, business, and government leaders about the existential risk posed by an approaching singularity and the belief that AI could trigger the next world war. The chapter then considers what constitutes militarized “artificial intelligence”; the justifications for employing AI considering the limits of deep learning and the human role in alleged “black boxes”; the wider moral advantages, disadvantages, and risks of using AI in the military domain; and the potential implications for the way in which the armed forces plan, train, and fight. In doing so, it advances the concept of ethical AI as that which yields humanitarian benefits and differentiates between minimally and maximally just versions of said AI

Keywords: artificial intelligence, deep learning, neural networks, robotics, armed conflict, military, killer robots, militarized artificial intelligence, ethical AI

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