Event Title: 2019 New Shape Forum: Weapons Governance
Date: September 30, 2019 – October 1, 2019
Presentation Title: Weaponised Artifical Intelligence – Critical Dual-Use Applications and Trends
Team Member: Daniel Faggella, Emerj Founder and CEO
Host Organizations: Global Challenges Foundation, Geneva Disarmament Platform
Presentation Recording: (below)
There were a variety of topics covered at the event, from satellite imagery to AI to drones and autonomous weapons. In attendance was a rare mix of policy people and technologists and researchers. My presentation was about dual-use applications of AI. Legacy military hardware and systems like tanks and missile systems will be upgraded with AI in time, but I thought it was important to cover the more general developments in AI and how those could be used for weaponized purposes.
First, I talked about the applications of natural language processing (NLP)—how the ability to understand language, to summarize, and to translate language, could be used for surveillance and intelligence purposes. I also talked about how computer vision could help monitor the placement of military assets and troops or the behavior and movement of those troops to potentially defend a country or find weak points to attack.
In addition, I discussed programmatically generated content and how the creation of these virtual worlds could affect political opinions. These virtual worlds will increasingly be the places where money is made and will increasingly be used to undermine countries.
I ended the presentation on asking a critical question: will closed-internet societies like China and increasingly Russia have an advantage over the free and open West? They have the opportunity to not only infiltrate the west’s digital ecosystems but own and control them for the sake of perpetuating propaganda and influence the behaviors of their own people to behoove the party in power.
The West likes to believe that such efforts are inherently futile, but it may be proven that the West needs a better strategy than pretending that a closed-internet strategy doesn’t work. The West might need to think about how it maintains its people’s freedoms but compete with these societies.
What We Learned
Through all these conversations, I learned that inclusion was a consistent theme. People are interested in ensuring that voices outside of military leaders are a part of the governance and peacemaking conversations around these new possibilities of weaponry. There was a closing keynote on the first day that was made by Leyma Gbowee, Nobel Peace Prize recipient, who talked about the role of women in bringing about peace in her native Liberia.
- There is some interest in the more far-out future. There was a breakout session with Jean-Marc Rickli, Head of Global Risk and Resilience at the Geneva Center for Security Policy, around forecasting. He spoke about the future potential of neurotechnology and strong AI. These weren’t things that were brushed to the side like at other events I’ve been to; they actually gathered some discourse. It’s no longer science fiction to imagine what the world is going to be like with neurotechnology and artificial general intelligence.
- Money laundering was still a major focus at this event. There was a presentation by Alejandra Quevedo of the Financial Action Task Force of Latin America, who talked about the protocols and methods used to prevent and track money laundering in South America and some of the international standards put in place to prevent money laundering. We focused a lot on fraud and financial crime in our AI in Banking Vendor Scorecard and Capability Map report, and we hope to see more focus on using AI to prevent money laundering to criminal or terrorist groups.
Header Image Credit: Geneva Disarmament Platform