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Abstract

How will emerging autonomous and intelligent systems affect the international landscape of power and coercion two decades from now? Will the world see a new set of artificial intelligence (AI) hegemons just as it saw a handful of nuclear powers for most of the twentieth century? Will autonomous weapon systems make conflict more likely or will states find ways to control proliferation and build deterrence, as they have done (fitfully) with nuclear weapons? And importantly, will multilateral forums find ways to engage the technology holders, states as well as industry, in norm setting and other forms of controlling the competition? The answers to these questions lie not only in the scope and spread of military applications of AI technologies but also in how pervasive their civilian applications will be. Just as civil nuclear energy and peaceful uses of outer space have cut into and often shaped discussions on nuclear weapons and missiles, the burgeoning uses of AI in consumer products and services, health, education, and public infrastructure will shape views on norm setting and arms control. New mechanisms for trust and confidence-building measures might be needed not only between China and the United States—the top competitors in comprehensive national strength today—but also among a larger group of AI players, including Canada, France, Germany, India, Israel, Japan, Russia, South Korea, and the United Kingdom.

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