June 14, 2024
Lemur 2 drone is demonstrated at the Brinc Drones facility in Seattle, Washington, US, on Monday, May 22, 2023. Ukraine forces and emergency responders have used Brinc Drones primarily for emergency response, but also to track and target Russian forces.

Ukraine’s Vision of Robot Assassins Shows Need for Binding AI Rules

Alex Bornyakov, Ukraine’s deputy tech minister, laid out the above scenario last week at a NATO event in Poland, detailing how a military drone could take out a Russian “war criminal” with a targeted assassination.

It was an unsettling advancement to weaponized drones, which the deputy minister added was only in the “prototyping” phase inside Ukraine. But much of the artificial intelligence needed for it exists now. “Computer vision works,” he said. “It’s already proven.”

The idea would take advantage of one of Ukraine’s warfare innovations. The country has installed thousands of mobile phones, on cell towers and gas stations, to act as its digital ears. Data from these sensors are paired with a neural network to create artificial intelligence tools that Bornyakov said can track enemy drones or hear when Russia fires off rockets.

However, giving computers potential control over lethal decisions, like the system Bornyakov described, is controversial among Ukraine’s allies. He was speaking at a North Atlantic Treaty Organization forum in Krakow, organized to announce a new partnership with Ukraine and to showcase the nation’s rapid deployment of wartime drones, software and other equipment.

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