Weapons of Mass Disruption: Artificial Intelligence and International Law

Cambridge International Law Journal (forthcoming)

NUS Law Working Paper No. 2021/009

31 Pages Posted: 26 Apr 2021 Last revised: 27 Apr 2021

See all articles by Simon Chesterman

Simon Chesterman

National University of Singapore (NUS) - Faculty of Law

Date Written: April 23, 2021

Abstract

The answers each political community finds to the law reform questions posed artificial intelligence (AI) may differ, but a near-term threat is that AI systems capable of causing harm will not be confined to one jurisdiction — indeed, it may be impossible to link them to a specific jurisdiction at all. This is not a new problem in cybersecurity, though different national approaches to regulation will pose barriers to effective regulation exacerbated by the speed, autonomy, and opacity of AI systems. For that reason, some measure of collective action is needed. Lessons may be learned from efforts to regulate the global commons, as well as moves to outlaw certain products (weapons and drugs, for example) and activities (such as slavery and child sex tourism). The argument advanced here is that regulation, in the sense of public control, requires active involvement of states. To coordinate those activities and enforce global ‘red lines’, this paper posits a hypothetical International Artificial Intelligence Agency (IAIA), modelled on the agency created after the Second World War to promote peaceful uses of nuclear energy, while deterring or containing its weaponization and other harmful effects.

Keywords: artificial intelligence, international law, international organizations, international institutions, nuclear energy, regulation

JEL Classification: K23, K24, K33, K38, O32, O38

Suggested Citation

Chesterman, Simon, Weapons of Mass Disruption: Artificial Intelligence and International Law (April 23, 2021). Cambridge International Law Journal (forthcoming), NUS Law Working Paper No. 2021/009, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3832563

Simon Chesterman (Contact Author)

National University of Singapore (NUS) - Faculty of Law ( email )

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