Documentary: AI and the future of humanity

Realities of Algorithmic Warfare’s (RAW) Jessica Dorsey, who researches algorithmic warfare from a legal perspective, appeared in an episode of CNN’s ‘The Whole Story with Anderson Cooper’. The episode, titled ‘AI and the future of humanity’, explores the rise of algorithmic applications in society, including the military sphere.

When asked whether the integration of AI in the military domain is a pivotal moment in modern warfare, Dorsey states it is “changing every weapon and every way of warfighting” and “it will make it easier for countries to go to war”. She underlines that “the technology exists to fully recognize and select targets on the battlefield” and kill those targets without a human involved. Dorsey emphasises the need for meaningful transparency and accountability for actions on the battlefield, as only humans can account for killing other humans. 

Alongside Dorsey, Lieutenant-Colonel Martijn Hädicke, commander of the Robots and Autonomous Systems (RAS) unit of the Dutch Army, appears in the documentary. His unit is developing unmanned autonomous vehicles and has experimented with armed autonomous weapons systems on Lithuanian training grounds. Hädicke states that the RAS unit “investigates whether and under which conditions decision authority can be delegated to a machine”. Hädicke declares that autonomous weapons systems could potentially attack human targets “in order to achieve the mission objective”. Questioned how he can justify a machine taking a human life, Hädicke responds: “Necessity, if it was not necessary we would not develop this capability”. To the question of whether AI is going to lead to more security for humankind, he states it “depends on who develops it”.

The episode effectively showcases two prominent perspectives on the development of autonomous weapons systems, contrasting the operational imperatives to develop autonomous weapons systems with the need for human control and accountability.

Click on the audio player below to listen to the podcast version of the documentary: 

Image source: Ministerie van Defensie