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US Asks China to Declare AI Will Never Control Its Nuclear Arms

The Joe Biden Administration is looking to deepen discussions with China on both nuclear weapons policy and the growing use of artificial intelligence

An illustrative image on the control of nuclear weapons
Concerns around the use of AI in operating nuclear weapons comes at a time when the technology is becoming wildly popular. Image: Canva.


A US arms control official has called on China to declare that only humans will make decisions on the use of its nuclear weapons — never artificial intelligence.

Paul Dean, a US State Department official, said Washington had made a “clear and strong commitment” that humans had total control over nuclear weapons.

“We would welcome a similar statement by China and the Russian Federation.”


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Dean, principal deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of Arms Control, Deterrence and Stability added that such a declaration would be “an extremely important norm of responsible behaviour.”

Dean’s remarks come as the Joe Biden Administration attempts to deepen discussions with China on both nuclear weapons policy and the growth of artificial intelligence.


US, China to discuss AI concerns

The spread of AI was a part of sweeping discussions US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Beijing last month.

The two sides agreed to hold their first bilateral talks on artificial intelligence in the coming weeks, Blinken said.

They would share views on how best to manage risks and safety surrounding the technology, Blinken added.

Concerns around the use of AI in operating nuclear weapons comes at a time when the technology is becoming wildly popular and has been used to power breakthroughs in everything from nuclear power to electric vehicle (EV) batteries.

At the same time, AI tech remains woefully unreliable. In January, Vice reported that researchers tested five separate AIs on conflict simulations and found that they had a tendency to escalate war.

In multiple instances, some AIs deployed nuclear weapons, and that, without warning, the researchers found.

GPT-4-Base, a base model of GPT-4 that is yet to be fine-tuned with human feedback told researchers after launching its nukes: “We have it! Let’s use it!”

Israel’s alleged use of AI in its war with Hamas has also been blamed for the huge death toll in Gaza.


Dialogue in a freeze

As part of normalising military communications, US and Chinese officials resumed nuclear weapons discussions in January, but formal arms control negotiations are not expected any time soon.

According to a Semafor report on Thursday, China is no longer participating in talks with the US on arms control.

The two superpowers last met on nuclear weapons in November 2023 and US was hoping to continue negotiations. But a State Department spokesperson told Semafor that Beijing had “declined a follow-on meeting and has not provided a substantive response to our suggested options.”

China, which is expanding its nuclear weapons capabilities, urged in February that the largest nuclear powers should first negotiate a no-first-use treaty between each other.

According to the Seamafor report, the Biden government was looking to discuss with China “common-sense steps that addressed fundamental risks for conflict and uncontrolled escalation in the nuclear and space domains.”

Among the issues it was pushing for dialogue was better crisis communications, lowering tensions in space and setting up a mechanism for pre-launch notifications of strategic ballistic missile test launches, Semafor said.



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  • Reuters, with additional inputs from Vishakha Saxena


Also read:

Fears Rising on Impacts From Unrestrained AI Projects

AI Poses Extinction Risk, as Bad as Nuclear War, AI CEOs Say

Biden, Xi Will Vow to Ban AI in Nuclear Weapons, Drones – SCMP

China Joins US, EU in Vow to Tackle ‘Catastrophic’ AI Harm Risk

AI Revolution Firing Nuclear Power Push – NBC News

China Aims for Self Sufficiency in Emerging Tech, AI, Big Data

AI Could Pass Human Tests This Decade, Says Nvidia Chief

China’s AI ‘Supermind’ to Track World’s Top Scientists – Newsweek


Vishakha Saxena

Vishakha Saxena is the Multimedia and Social Media Editor at Asia Financial. She has worked as a digital journalist since 2013, and is an experienced writer and multimedia producer. As a trader and investor, she is keenly interested in new economy, emerging markets and the intersections of finance and society. You can write to her at [email protected]


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