At a recent world security conference, the topic of artificial intelligence and possible applications in warfare came up, and some of the European leaders present said that NATO may well drop the ball on this threat as it’s believed it did when cyberattacks became an international threat just over ten years ago. The Munich Security Conference centered on the need to regulate and control AI on a worldwide level in order to prevent it being used for global harm. Notably, a floor session was opened with a speech by Sophia, a robot powered by cutting-edge AI, who had previously gone on a talk show and joked about subjugating humanity under powerful AI rulership.
Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid took the floor to lay out what she thinks is a good plan for addressing the future threat of AI on the battlefield. She explained that in order to address such a threat, we must first figure out why it’s a threat, what it could become capable of, and what NATO is most afraid of seeing happen. She defined that third category in three broad strokes; rogue actors using AI for their own purposes, AI spreading intelligence that should not be spread, and AI depleting much-needed energy stores that could be used elsewhere. She did not go into specifics about these three topics, essentially implying that the possibilities are vast.
Back in 2007, one of the first international cyber attacks by state actors was launched, with Russia effectively shutting down the internet presence of Estonia’s government, among other elements. When this took place, NATO was all but blindsided, leaving Estonia defenseless in cyberspace, outside of technicians working to reverse the damage. Eventually, NATO chose to respond by tracking down and arresting one of the main parties responsible and then forming the Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence in Estonia. The gist of this conference was that AI technology was advancing faster than NATO could keep up with at its current level of focus and that an attack using AI could take NATO or any of its member states by surprise if additional resources aren’t committed to adequate defenses.