Any use of AI-powered autonomous weapons must be done responsibly

Ben Wodecki, Jr. Editor

January 26, 2023

2 Min Read

The Pentagon has updated its rules on autonomous weapon systems to include AI – the first time it has made changes to it in a decade.

Directive 3000.09, Autonomy in Weapon Systems, has been revised to reflect changes in the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and the world over the last decade. The update outlines requirements for autonomous and semi-autonomous weapon systems.

The guidance instructs makers of autonomous and semi-autonomous weapon systems to ensure human commanders and operators can exercise judgment over the use of force.

The directive also states that any use of AI capabilities in autonomous or semi-autonomous weapons would need to be consistent with the DoD’s AI Ethical Principles. Unveiled in February 2020, the principles encourage the responsible and transparent use of AI in both combat and non-combat functions.

“The DoD will take deliberate steps to minimize unintended bias in AI capabilities,” according to the newly updated directive.

Other changes to the rules include the introduction of a new senior-level oversight group tasked with identifying potential issues with weapon systems. The newly formed Autonomous Weapon Systems Working Group will advise DoD officials whether a given weapon system requires senior-level approval to be deployed.

"Given the dramatic advances in technology happening all around us, the update to our Autonomy in Weapon Systems directive will help ensure we remain the global leader of not only developing and deploying new systems but also safety,” said deputy secretary of defense Kathleen Hicks, in a statement.

The directive does not bar the development of any particular weapon system. Currently, there are no global laws or rules limiting the development or deployment of autonomous weapons of war.

The United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons proposed banning autonomous weapons at a meeting in Geneva back in 2021, but the motion failed after most major powers voted it down. The U.S. allocated some $18 billion to research autonomous weapon systems from 2016 to 2020, with others following suit.

About the Author(s)

Ben Wodecki

Jr. Editor

Ben Wodecki is the Jr. Editor of AI Business, covering a wide range of AI content. Ben joined the team in March 2021 as assistant editor and was promoted to Jr. Editor. He has written for The New Statesman, Intellectual Property Magazine, and The Telegraph India, among others. He holds an MSc in Digital Journalism from Middlesex University.

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

You May Also Like