Debate Over Militarized AI Takes Center Stage in Africa during U.S. Diplomat Paul Dean’s Tour

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The use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the military sector has become a focal point of discussion among experts, with AI playing an unprecedented role on battlefields, particularly in regions like Ukraine and Gaza. The deployment of drones and automated weapons raises ethical questions and sparks debates. Currently, forty-seven countries, including some in Africa, have signed a declaration addressing the responsible military use of AI.

Initiated by the United States on February 16, a Political Declaration on the Responsible Military Use of AI was signed in The Hague. Paul Dean, Deputy Secretary at the Department of State, is currently touring the African continent, making stops this week in Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria, and Cameroon to encourage additional countries to join this initiative. As of now, only four African countries—Liberia, Libya, Malawi, and Morocco—are signatories to the political declaration.

The declaration comprises ten points outlining the need for audits on the military use of AI, explicit and well-defined applications, and the implementation of tests, evaluations, and high-level human reviews for decision-making. It also emphasizes the ability to deactivate AI in case of unexpected behavior. However, the Department of State emphasizes that the perspectives of Africans should be taken into account in this sector.

“A diverse range of viewpoints is necessary, and the African perspective is crucial to establishing rules for responsible use and moving to the next step, which is applying these regulations. It requires a broad range of opinions and continuous dialogue to strengthen these measures and ensure their proper implementation. We encourage Africans to join us. This is an opportunity to collectively build rules for a sector that will have an increasingly significant impact. It will foster relationships and improve skills, essential components to ensure that these ten rules are not just words but concrete measures guiding the operational applications of states,” highlighted Paul Dean.

For the Deputy Secretary, AI will be revolutionary in military decision-making, logistics, communication, and planning. He aims to emphasize the positive aspects of this technology for enhancing compliance with humanitarian law and efficiency in decision-making processes.

Soukaina Sghir

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