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The use of Artificial Intelligence in Warfare

Updated on February 14, 2018
Rahma Khan profile image

Rahma loves traveling, technology & food. Being a millennial herself, she loves to write about the challenges faced by millennials every day

Artificial Intelligence and Defense Industry

Artificial Intelligence incorporates the use of high-tech advanced lethal weapons and robots, which also includes the use of latest technology drones and defensive military equipment, thus being a significant part of the defense industry. Artificial intelligence is revolutionizing multiple dimensions of warfare. Military robots and advanced lethal weapons hold the capabilities to undertake different potential of wars and missions on their own. This has however increased various contradictory opinions regarding the ethical involvement of artificial technology in the warfare keeping in mind the probability of putting human lives at stake due to the robotics involvement. However, usage of the artificial intelligence in war comes with many consequences attached to it.

This article is aimed at providing thorough research and commutative discussions in terms of the emergence of artificial intelligence and the factors that lead it to the corporation with defense and security sectors.

1. Emergence of Artificial Intelligence and Future of Defense

Types of equipment operating with artificial intelligence technology were manufactured in the early sixties. However, its corporation in the defense and safety sector was a huge revolutionary step taken by the experts in mid-nineties, which is still under continuous changing phases with new technology and more high-tech equipment and machinery coming to existence. It will not be wrong to say that artificial intelligence has entirely amended the way wars were strategized and operated decades ago. With technologically advanced weapons and machinery, a significant rise in the defense budget has been seen as the machinery equipped with artificial intelligence comes at a highly increased cost and demands rational maintenance and service. This has raised a variety of concerns over investment and financial budgeting of defense industry.

2. Ethical consideration of artificial intelligence in warfare

There have been multiple speculations since rising in the integration of artificial intelligence in warfare. The involvement of artificial intelligence in warfare has given birth to high-tech robotics and lethal autonomous weapons. Though the advancement in technology over the recent years have been commendable, however, the machines cannot be entirely trusted especially when their operations involve a high risk of human lives being at risk due to system malfunction. United Nations have been actively engaged in conducting talks with LAWS (Lethal Autonomous Weapons System) and CCW (Certain Conventional Weapons) regarding the use of highly intrigued artificial intelligence war machinery. There is a huge probability of declaration of an international treaty, which will mark limiting the usage of AI at a considerable level in warfare.

3. Remote and Autonomous Weapons

Remote and autonomous weapons can be highly effective in achieving the security standards set by a country. The programmed operation of these weapons can be utilized in any activity during the war. However, this unmanned lethal machinery holds great potential to create havoc in case of a potential system failure. Also, the decision making capability of humans cannot be precisely programmed in the machines, therefore, the ability to perform the correct action of autonomous weapons and robots on their own has always been in shade of doubts even after multiple progressions being made in the field.

4. Ethical Implications of Autonomous Weapons

Use of autonomous weapons in war have raised various considerations and arguments related to the legal and ethical use of these weapons. The decision makers of defense and security departments have been striving to reach a verdict, which either entirely approves or disapproves the use of autonomous weapons in wars. A prime concern is the absence of human interaction in operation of these autonomous weapons, which have raised doubts over the concept of revolutionizing the future of defense with the integration of AI and autonomous weapons. Major legal issues related to the use of autonomous weapons comprises of accountability concerns as robots and artificially intelligent equipment/machinery do not come under the law. In case of any failures in order to carry out the mission, there would be no one to hold accountable for.

5. The future of Artificial Intelligence

With the rapid increase in technological developments, major nuclear powers of the world such as; Russia, USA, and China, all are striving towards developing long-term artificial intelligence plans. China is profoundly investing in the development of robotics and autonomous weapons. Similarly, the Russian military has been intensely working on a completely robotic combat zone. AI is an extremely powerful tool; however, it has to be limited in various essential ways. As semi-autonomous weapons are largely used by governments to spy to bomb nowadays; such as drones, however, due to the strong legal and ethical legislation, the future of AI in warfare still cannot be completely predicted.


The latest research conducted in 2017, demonstrated that artificial intelligence is in a revolutionary phase to be completely implemented in warfare. The advanced high-tech system meets many of the major parameters of safety, along with the use of semi-autonomous and autonomous weapons and robots. However, the biggest threat it contains is the legal usage and ethical values of using an intelligent machine on a battlefield without any human interaction. Since the human lives are highly at stake, the integration of AI with warfare should be revised based on the accountability and security of the stakeholders of these AI autonomous weapons.

© 2018 Rahma Khan


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