Biden and Xi Set to Ban Use of AI in Drones and Nuclear Weapons

The meeting in San Francisco comes as U.S.-China relations have reached a low point.

Deborah Yao, Editor

November 15, 2023

2 Min Read
From left: U.S. President Biden and Chinese President Xi, in 2013 when Biden was vice president under ObamaGetty Images

At a Glance

  • U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping are expected to ban the use of AI in autonomous weapons.
  • They also are set to ban the use of AI in systems used to control and deploy nuclear warheads.
  • The two presidents are meeting on the sidelines of the APEC summit in San Francisco at a time when relations are frayed.

At a historic meeting today between U.S. President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping in San Francisco, the two leaders reportedly are expected to agree to ban the use of AI in autonomous weapons.

The South China Morning Post is reporting that the ban would apply to weaponry such as drones, which are increasingly being used in modern warfare such as the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Biden and Xi also are expected to ban the use of AI in systems that control and deploy nuclear warheads, according to the Post’s sources.

The potential risks posed by AI in warfare is expected to be the major focus of their discussions, which are taking place on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit (APEC) in San Francisco.

The meeting comes as U.S.-China relations have frayed over trade. The U.S. has been tightening exports of advanced AI chips and equipment to China due to national security concerns. China is America’s foremost AI rival whose military prowess could be further enabled by access to Silicon Valley’s best AI hardware and software.

This month, in a report to Congress by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, the authors said that the “rivalry between the United States and China was intensifying” and the “new normal is one of continuing, long-term strategic and systemic competition.”

Related:AI Safety Summit: 28 Nations and EU Sign the ‘Bletchley Declaration’

Agreement on AI safety

But China is also signaling that it is concerned about the risks inherent in AI. Along with the U.S., the EU and 26 other countries, China attended the AI Safety Summit that was hosted by U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak two weeks ago. The attendees, including China and the U.S., signed an agreement to work globally to rein in potential harms from AI.

Moreover, the U.S. and China have endorsed the responsible use of AI in the military at the first global summit on the issue, in the Netherlands. The February REAIM (Responsible Artificial Intelligence in the Military Domain) event saw the U.S. propose a new legal and diplomatic framework that seeks global cooperation on the development and deployment of AI in the military.

In October, Xi announced the Global AI Governance Initiative for the development, security and governance of AI for the good of society. It includes establishing a testing and assessment system based on AI risk levels as well as calling for an international institution to govern AI, according to remarks from a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson.

In the same month, Biden signed an executive order regulating the use of AI, calling for the public vetting of AI models developed by leading AI companies, easing immigration rules for AI experts, among other stipulations. In November, Vice President Kamala Harris announced the creation of the U.S. AI Safety Institute to set guidelines for regulating AI.

Related:Biden Issues Executive Order on AI Regulation

About the Author(s)

Deborah Yao


Deborah Yao runs the day-to-day operations of AI Business. She is a Stanford grad who has worked at Amazon, Wharton School and Associated Press.

Keep up with the ever-evolving AI landscape
Unlock exclusive AI content by subscribing to our newsletter!!

You May Also Like