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AI-launched nukes are a threat – so Congress is taking action

The Army's artificial intelligence software prototype designed to quickly identify threats through a range of battlefield data and satellite imagery. (Photo Screenshot image/US Army)
August 04, 2023

House lawmakers have proposed legislation to prevent fears of artificial intelligence launching a nuclear attack from becoming a reality by ensuring that human control remains over U.S. nuclear weapons.

According to Fox News, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) has proposed a bipartisan amendment for the annual National Defense Authorization Act that would require the U.S. military to establish a system that guarantees “meaningful human control is required to launch any nuclear weapon.”

Lieu’s legislation clearly defines the parameters of human control, requiring humans to have final say in the selection and engagement of targets, as well as when, where, and how nuclear weapons are launched.

The bipartisan support shown for Lieu’s amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act demonstrates the growing fears of lawmakers that artificial intelligence could launch nuclear weapons without proper human oversight.

Currently, Republican lawmakers Juan Ciscomani of Arizona and Zachary Nunn of Iowa, and Democrat lawmakers Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Chrissy Houlahan of Pennsylvania, Seth Moulton of Massachusetts, and Don Beyer of Virginia have expressed support for Lieu’s amendment, according to Fox News.

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In addition to Lieu’s amendment, Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass) has proposed a similar amendment to the defense bill. His proposal would require the Department of Defense to follow the Biden administration’s “Responsible Military Use of Artificial Intelligence and Autonomy” guidelines.

The Biden administration’s guidelines state that country’s should “maintain human control and involvement for all actions critical to informing and executing sovereign decisions concerning nuclear weapons employment.”

According to Fox News, House Republicans could begin the process next week of determining which of the National Defense Authorization Act’s roughly 1,300 amendments proposed by lawmakers will receive a vote in the House.

While lawmakers prepare to consider legislation that could provide additional human controls on artificial intelligence, Fox News reported that senior military leaders have claimed that the military is already taking steps to control artificial intelligence.

Earlier this year, U.S. Central Command’s artificial intelligence advisors told Fox News that the military’s goal is to use artificial intelligence to quickly process data and provide military options; however, human military leaders will remain in charge of the military’s ultimate decisions.