Mapping State Participation in Military AI Governance Discussions

In: Justin Bullock, Baobao Zhang, Yu-Che Chen, Johannes Himmelreich, Matthew Young, Antonin Korinek & Valerie Hudson (eds.). Oxford Handbook on AI Governance (Oxford University Press, 2022 Forthcoming).

20 Pages Posted: 15 Mar 2022

Date Written: February 20, 2022

Abstract

Military applications for artificial intelligence (AI), and in particular so-called Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS), have provoked intense debate in the international arena. Can existing conventions be adapted to govern current advances in artificial intelligence and autonomy in weapons systems? What is the likelihood that states can achieve consensus on the core questions at stake in these debates? To date, mechanisms for arms control and governance have struggled to adapt to changing technological expectations, and metrics to gauge progress have remained inadequate. Drawing on original data, this chapter attempts to quantify the landscape of AI governance discussions under the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW). We evaluate a battery of factors – military capabilities, economic interests, diplomatic alignment, and regime type -- in order to understand why some states are more eager than others to engage. We find that the determinants of participation are in fact nuanced, and that no single school of thought can account for the variation. In a world where anxieties about an “AI arms race” have captured headlines, and fears of “killer robots” have provoked mobilization by civil society stakeholders, these issues are of immense importance to future policy and diplomacy. Scholars and policymakers can appreciate why nearly all governments are working to shape the outcome of discussions, even if for varied reasons.

Keywords: artificial intelligence, AI, Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, CCW, United Nations, Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS), killer robots, arms control, governance, nonproliferation

Suggested Citation

Canfil, Justin Key and Kania, Elsa, Mapping State Participation in Military AI Governance Discussions (February 20, 2022). In: Justin Bullock, Baobao Zhang, Yu-Che Chen, Johannes Himmelreich, Matthew Young, Antonin Korinek & Valerie Hudson (eds.). Oxford Handbook on AI Governance (Oxford University Press, 2022 Forthcoming)., Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4038982

Justin Key Canfil (Contact Author)

Harvard Kennedy School

79 JFK Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Elsa Kania

Harvard University ( email )

1737 Cambridge St
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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