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4 Geopolitical Risks of the Rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI) for the Global Security

  • Artificial Intelligence is a rapidly developing and revolutionary technology for different sectors of contemporary society;
  • Technology carries with it ethical dilemmas to be discussed between private organizations and States;
  • The development of AI can generate competitions in economics, security and defense, and even lead to a new arms race.

The evolution of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become increasingly complex and comprehensive. Technology promises to revolutionize various sectors of society, from industry to public services and people’s everyday lives.

However, this convergence also brings with it a number of geopolitical challenges that require a careful and collaborative approach. By addressing these challenges, we can harness the full potential of these technologies to create a smarter, more sustainable future.

The growth of Artificial Intelligence – Open AI Chat GPT, Google Bart, Meta LLaMA and others

Artificial intelligence has an intriguing history of growth and development over the decades. Although the theoretical foundations and first concepts of AI emerged in the 20th century, it was in the last few decades that the technology really began to expand and spread into various areas of everyday life.

In the 1950s, pioneering researchers such as Alan Turing and John McCarthy laid the theoretical foundations of AI, with ideas about machines that could simulate human thinking. However, the practical development of AI faced significant challenges due to the limited processing power of computers at the time and the lack of adequate datasets and algorithms.

During the 1960s and 1970s, there were notable advances in AI, including the development of programs capable of solving complex problems, such as the famous chess program developed by Arthur Samuel. However, progress was limited, and AI went through a period of stagnation known as the “AI winter” in the 1980s, due to a lack of significant advances and reduced funding.

It was in the 1990s that AI started to show signs of a resurgence. The processing power of computers has increased significantly, allowing the processing of large amounts of data and the execution of more complex algorithms.

Furthermore, the growth of the internet and the availability of vast amounts of digital data have provided a solid foundation for training and improving AI algorithms.

With the onset of the 21st century, AI has begun to integrate into various practical applications. Machine learning algorithms such as artificial neural networks and genetic algorithms have been applied in areas such as speech recognition, computer vision, natural language processing and personalized recommendations.

In recent years, there have been remarkable advances in the field of AI, driven by the exponential growth of data, the increase in computational capacity and the improvement of algorithms.

Artificial intelligence is now present in various industries such as healthcare, finance, transportation, manufacturing and entertainment. Chatbots, virtual assistants, self-driving cars, facial recognition and AI-based healthcare are just a few examples of how AI is transforming our society.

Although the field of AI has progressed significantly, there is still a lot of room for growth and development. Challenges such as ethics, transparency, interpretability of results and equity are being discussed and addressed to ensure that AI is used responsibly and beneficial to society as a whole.

The geopolitical risks that the growth and development of Artificial Intelligence can bring

However, this growth in AI capacity can also have negative consequences for society if there is no regulation. Additionally, defense departments in several countries are researching how AI can be used on the battlefield, potentially increasing the risk of armed conflict.

In this way, both civil and military use of AI can eventually generate geopolitical risks.

According to Ian Bremmer, there are four geopolitical risks that the development of Artificial Intelligence can bring.

Bremmer is a political scientist, author and political risk analyst, known for his expertise in geopolitics, international politics and the global economy, Bremmer is also the author of influential books on topics such as globalism and the relationship between states and corporations. His wide-ranging vision and authority on political risk studies make him a prominent figure in the field.

That said, according to the political scientist, the four risks are:

  1. Disinformation: With the advancement of AI, it becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish between AI bots (robots) and humans, especially in text, audio and video. This can lead to an inability to discern truth from falsehood, resulting in negative consequences for democracies. While authoritarian countries can use AI to strengthen their political stability, in democratic countries it can erode institutions and the information space.
  2. Proliferation: The risk of proliferation of AI technologies by malicious actors is a significant concern. Increased access to AI technology can allow the creation of dangerous viruses, lethal autonomous drones, malware (malicious programs) and other cyber threats. This can make it difficult for governments and institutions to respond effectively, amplifying security challenges.
  3. Displacement risk: The advancement of AI could result in the replacement of human jobs with automation. Although new jobs emerge and productivity increases, the displacement of workers can generate dissatisfaction and create social tensions. The lack of adequate policies for reskilling and supporting those affected by displacement can lead to increased support for anti-establishment politicians and a sense of illegitimacy for political leaders.
  4. Substitution risk: There is concern that human interaction will be replaced by relationship with technology. Overreliance on AI relationships can lead to dehumanization and social isolation. When the interests of AI companies are not aligned with human well-being, there is a risk of dysfunction and the loss of human connections essential for social and emotional development.

These four risks underscore the need to address not only the technological progress of AI, but also its social, ethical and geopolitical impacts to ensure a balanced and beneficial development for humanity.

Artificial intelligence – the new arms race

As mentioned above, AI has been the subject of increasing interest and development in various areas, including military and defense. The pursuit of AI technologies applied to weapons and autonomous drones has also sparked ethical debates and concerns about a potential new arms race.

The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is one of the main drivers of this race. DARPA has invested significantly in AI projects aimed at creating autonomous weapons capable of making decisions and taking actions without direct human intervention.

The development of autonomous drones is an area of particular interest. These unmanned aircraft can be equipped with advanced AI systems, allowing them to independently make decisions during a mission. This can include target selection, threat assessment and attack execution.

While the prospect of autonomous weapons and drones is seen by some as a strategic advantage and a way to reduce risk to military forces, significant concerns also arise. One of the main concerns is the lack of direct human control over the actions of these weapons, which can lead to unforeseen consequences and an increase in the lethality of conflicts.

There are also ethical concerns about liability for the actions of these autonomous weapons. Who is responsible when an autonomous drone makes a mistake or causes collateral damage? How to ensure compliance with international humanitarian law and the principles of proportionality and distinction when decisions are made by algorithms?

In the face of these concerns, there is an ongoing debate about the need to establish international regulations to control the development and use of autonomous weapons and drones.

Some organizations and experts advocate a complete ban on these weapons, while others argue for strict limitations to ensure adequate human oversight.

Leading countries in AI investment for military purposes

Currently, several countries are investing significantly in artificial intelligence for military purposes, recognizing the potential of this technology to strengthen their defense capabilities. Some countries highlighted in this investment include:

  1. United States: The United States has a long history of leadership in military technology and is a pioneer in the use of AI in its defense operations. The country has invested in projects such as autonomous weapons systems, intelligence data analysis, AI-based surveillance and cybersecurity systems.
  2. China: China has shown rapid growth in its investment in AI for military purposes. The country seeks to become a global technological powerhouse and has been developing autonomous drones, AI-based air defense systems, unmanned combat vehicles and facial recognition systems for military use.
  3. Russia: Russia is also investing heavily in AI for military purposes. The country has been developing autonomous weapons systems, combat drones, advanced air defense systems and AI algorithms for intelligence data analysis and decision-making.
  4. United Kingdom: The United Kingdom has focused on boosting AI research and development for military use. The country invests in projects such as autonomous defense systems, cybersecurity, big data analysis and unmanned aerial vehicles.
  5. Israel: Israel is known for its highly advanced defense industry and has incorporated AI into various military areas. The country has been developing autonomous drones, air defense systems, AI-based cybersecurity and intelligent surveillance systems.
  6. Turkey: Turkey has been recognized as a country that has developed and actively uses autonomous drones in its military operations. One of the most prominent and advanced drones produced by Turkey is the Bayraktar TB2, manufactured by the Turkish company Baykar Makina. In addition, the country recently presented the first unmanned ship to the world.

These are just a few examples of countries that are standing out in the investment in AI for military purposes, but they are enough to incite the interest and importance of the topic at the international level.

The geopolitical importance of the development of Artificial Intelligence

The development of artificial intelligence has significant geopolitical importance on the international stage. AI is becoming a crucial strategic area for countries, with profound implications across multiple geopolitical dimensions.

Some key aspects that underscore the geopolitical importance of AI are:

  • Technological competition: Countries are seeking to lead the development and application of AI to gain economic, military, and security advantages;
  • Security and defense: The development of AI in the area of security and defense could have profound implications for military strategies, international relations and even global stability.
  • Geopolitical influence: AI-dominated countries can exert influence on AI-related global standards, regulations, and norms. This could have implications for AI governance, data privacy, ethics and cybersecurity.
  • Challenges and Concerns: How countries address these challenges and establish AI-related policies and regulations can influence their geopolitical position.
  • Cooperation and competition: While some countries compete to lead in AI development, others seek international cooperation to address common challenges, share knowledge, and set ethical and legal standards for the use of AI.

In short, the development of this technology has a significant geopolitical importance, influencing competitiveness (or collaboration) in the economy, security and defense and in global challenges. By all indications, the future of geopolitics will be increasingly shaped by the evolution and application of AI.

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