Defence committee chair: ‘Two years until AI is a problem we cannot control’

Former MoD minister and serving reservist Tobias Ellwood claims that technology will profoundly alter warfare

Credit: Cliff Hang/Pixabay

The head of parliament’s Defence Committee has warned that artificial intelligence will profoundly alter how wars are fought and urged regulators that they have no more than two years to get a grip on the issue.

Tobias Ellwood – who is also a former defence minister, and a serving Army reservist – has previously called for government to create a dedicated ministerial post to oversee AI. In addition to which, the committee chair said that it has become urgent to ensure technology is effectively regulated as “machine learning and autonomy is about to alter the battlefield existentially and whoever gets there first will have a critical advantage”.

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“AI will remove the ‘fog of war’,” he wrote, in a piece for PublicTechnology sister publication The House. “Masses of data regarding enemy strengths, weaknesses, and intensions in contrast to individual dispositions will be assessed instantly. Hesitance, human error, and misguided heroism will all be removed from command and control.”

Ellwood added: “Even in the grey zone, large scale disinformation could be actively propagated across the internet far more efficiently. AI can instantly monitor and adjust its messaging to maximise political discord, even to the point where targeted communities would struggle to know what is true anymore.”

Pointing to pending legislation targeted at online harms, the Conservative MP for Bournemouth East noted that it these laws were only being introduced “two decades after Facebook came into our lives”.

“AI technology will no doubt be a force for good in our lives,” he said. “But without the right regulations, we have less than two years before AI becomes a security problem we can no longer control.”

Read Ellwood’s full piece here

Sam Trendall

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