The United Nations is not taking any clear action regarding the development of autonomous weapons despite numerous appeals to ban them outright. Even though a lot of countries have stated that they will take no part in it, many countries are supporting it as well and South Korea is one of them. It just announced a major investment in AI and military systems with end goals of applying AI to defence projects.
Hanwha Systems, South Korea’s leading defence company, is joining forces with government-run research university KAIST (Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology) to launch a new facility dedicated to developing AI-based military innovations. The facility, opened on February 20, is called the Research Center for the Convergence of National Defense and Artificial Intelligence.
The initial announcement covers four areas. “AI-based command and decision systems, composite navigation algorithms for mega-scale unmanned undersea vehicles, AI-based smart aircraft training systems, and AI-based smart object tracking and recognition technology.”
Even though there was a lot of pressure to ban such developments from leading names in the industry last year, the UN did not seem to share their vision. Discussions for developing a set of rules were a part of the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) held in November last year. But, Russia refused to take part in it and doubts were raised afterwards.
Russia is not the only country to have shown interest in developing autonomous weapons. The US has been investing in it as well and recently revealed a new autonomous combat program nicknamed, “Wingman”. The US claims that AI weapons will always keep soldiers in the loop and lethal force will never be deployed without human approval.
South Korea has been reported to already have autonomous sentry robots patrolling the borders with North Korea but it is also reported that they cannot fore without human approval. So, the latest announcement does not come as a surprise. With so many countries investing so heavily in autonomous weapons, we have to ask ourselves what the world is coming to and whether it is now too late for the UN to take an action.