In a high-stakes encounter on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, Presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping are gearing up for an unprecedented move – a joint commitment to outlaw artificial intelligence (AI) use in autonomous weaponry. This long-awaited tête-à-tête, the first in a year, not only aims to mend US-China relations but also promises to reshape the global landscape of AI deployment in military applications.
The talks are poised to tackle a spectrum of issues, from AI to fentanyl and detained Americans in China, with President Biden underscoring the importance of transparent communication, particularly in military realms. The spotlight, however, is on a groundbreaking agreement to halt the use of AI in autonomous weapons, spanning drones and the control of nuclear warheads. This move reflects a shared global concern about the potential risks linked to AI advancements.
The US, championing responsible AI use, introduced the Political Declaration on the Responsible Military Use of Artificial Intelligence and Autonomy earlier this year, garnering support from 36 nations. In a strategic push, China, under President Xi, has also prioritized AI in fostering emerging industries, notably, the People’s Liberation Army of China (PLA) exploring autonomous weapons systems integrated with AI.
Yet, amidst this progress, challenges persist in the US-China relationship, with disputes over language on conflicts in Ukraine and Israel. Thorny topics such as Taiwan’s elections and PLA Navy activities in the South China Sea continue to cast shadows. Nevertheless, common ground has been found on less contentious matters, including increasing daily US-China flights, tightening regulations on Chinese laboratories linked to fentanyl production, and collaborative efforts on public health policies.
As these leaders brace for critical discussions, the world watches with bated breath, hopeful for breakthroughs in overcoming challenges and fortifying US-China relations.