World Leaders Using Terminator-Style Robots In Warfare?

More than 60 countries whose representatives attended a conference on responsible use of AI made a "call to action" to not misuse military AI, but without making any concrete actions against the possibility of things like "AI guided drones" and "slaughterbots."

By Michileen Martin | Published

terminator robots

The good news is that there are apparently people in positions of influence who want to make sure we never see Terminator-style robots on the battlefield, but the bad news is they aren’t doing a real great job just yet. Reuters reports that representatives from the United States, China, and over 60 other countries signed a “call to action” urging all nations to use AI in the military only in “responsible” ways. This “call,” however, fails to lay down any legally binding restrictions to nations who pursue the development of the kind of nightmare scenario AI that pretty much made James Cameron‘s career possible.

This “call to action” was signed at the first international summit on responsible use of artificial intelligence in the military in The Hague, Netherlands, which was co-hosted by the government of South Korea. Reuters reports that Israel declined to sign the document. Russia was not invited to the conference and Ukraine — whose military has been using AI in their fight against Russia’s invasion — did not attend.

Reuters reports that Bonnie Jenkins, U.S. Under Secretary of State for Arms Control, offered a proposal to define exactly what constituted responsible use of military AI. Critics of the proposal called it weak and ill-defined. For example, the international NGO Human Rights Watch pointed out that Jenkins’s proposal called for using “appropriate levels of human judgment” in using AI without defining what it meant by “appropriate.”

Arguably, such a comparatively vague guideline could leave the possibility of Terminator killer robots and the like very much on the table.

the terminator chatgpt

The United States was not alone in making what appeared to be sweeping, generalized declarations that amounted to very little concrete action. Jian Tan, the representative from China, urged all nations to “oppose seeking absolute military advantage and hegemony through AI” while also suggesting countries should use the United Nations to make sure this happens.

Of course, none of the nations present stated they planned on developing killer Terminator robots or AI guided drones. Still, the relatively weak stance of the United States proposal, according to assistant professor of international law Jessica Dorsey, represents a “missed opportunity.”

“It paves the path for states to develop AI for military purposes in any way they see fit as long as they can say it is ‘responsible.’ Where is the enforcement mechanism?”

-Jessica Dorsey, assistant professor of international law at Utrecht University

It really does seem like the “enforcement mechanism” Dorsey refers to is desperately needed, judging by what’s becoming possible in the fields of both AI and robotics. We’ve recently seen a robot that can move around obstacles just like the liquid metal villain of Terminator 2, flying spider robots, dog robots that can climb walls like Spider-Man, and more potential nightmares. If there’s an ideal time to lay down some rules about AI on the battlefield, it’s now.