The Rand Corporation, a non-profit think tank, claims that artificial intelligence could bring about a devastating nuclear war by 2040, potentially wiping out humanity. Technological advances that could lead to a ‘doomsday AI’ may encourage nations to take additional risks in regards to using their nuclear capabilities, the group claims.
Unlike during the Cold War, where fears of mutually assured destruction prevented global superpowers from launching nuclear attacks, AI advances may allow countries to eliminate a rival nation’s counterattack capabilities.
The Rand Corporation warns, even though the technology doesn’t exist today, there may be no way to prevent AI from reaching that point in the future.
In the Rand Corporation’s report, the group suggests that AI technologies, when used in conjunction with sensor and open-source data, could lead countries to believe that their nuclear weapons are at risk.
According to the think tank, as reported by the Daily Mail, this has the potential to cause leaders to take drastic steps in an effort to keep pace with current superpowers.
“Some experts fear that an increased reliance on artificial intelligence can lead to new types of catastrophic mistakes,” said the paper’s co-author and Rand Corporation associate engineer Andrew Lohn.
“There may be pressure to use AI before it is technologically mature, or it may be susceptible to adversarial subversion.”
Lohn continued, “Therefore, maintaining strategic stability in coming decades may prove extremely difficult, and all nuclear powers must participate in the cultivation of institutions to help limit nuclear risk.”
Another potential risk identified in the report involves leaders making launch decisions based on AI recommendations that were made with faulty, inaccurate, or incomplete data.
Additionally, AI systems may be vulnerable to hacking, allowing malicious outside parties to access the technologies in hopes of triggering a specific event.
Not everyone agrees with the Rand Corporation’s assessment. Some suggest that AI may improve strategic stability through improved accuracy of intelligence gathering and analysis.
Further, the ability to better monitor and interpret another country’s actions could reduce the chances of an unintended escalation. AI may also be less error-prone when compared to humans, reducing the risk that a simple misstep could result in nuclear war.