Senate concerns about AUKUS show the limitations of cooperation in AI

Washington D.C.- In accordance with the adages that advise locking valuable things in a vault or keeping them under one’s hat, the United States currently finds itself in a situation that necessitates such protective measures.

The recent letter from the Senate’s Committee on Armed Services to Lloyd J. Austin, Secretary of Defense, regarding the development and adoption of autonomous and AI-enabled capabilities in partnership with the United Kingdom and Australia, underscores the importance of exercising prudence in sharing valuable knowledge and technologies, akin to the adages advocating for their protection.

In the ever-evolving realm of artificial intelligence (AI), nations are striving to maintain a competitive edge in AI-led capabilities to secure economic growth, national security, and technological advancement.

The Senate’s Committee is concerned about accelerating the development and adoption of AI efforts under Pillar 2 of trilateral security partnership, among Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, called AUKUS. 

The lawmakers while acknowledging the benefits of AI, such as increased situational awareness and operational efficiencies to maintain the U.S. military’s decision advantage, also recognized the changing nature of threats from adversaries who may exploit AI technology against the U.S. 

Defense One reported that through the letter the senators have requested answers to several questions about AI related efforts under the trilateral security partnership.

“We welcome continued collaboration with our international allies and partners on the development of advanced military capabilities and the opportunity to reinforce deterrence and promote security through these activities. However, mitigating risks to adversarial AI and developing resilient, indigenous AI systems is critical to achieving the objectives of the AUKUS security partnership,” the letter reads.  

The questions cover governance, stakeholders, capability development and sustainment, and data access, management, and security aspects.

It is pertinent to mention here that despite talks about cooperation and sharing of capabilities across allies, American Institute of Artificial Intelligence (AIAI) had projected that eventually AI will become a closely held capability.

Dr. Al Naqvi, founder of AIAI and the primary author of “At the Speed of Irrelevance”, argues in his book that AI capabilities are a national competitive advantage and only a limited level of cooperation with allies of a nation can be built around that.

“This applies to both data assets and algorithms. As a leader in the AI field, the US should approach sensitive AI with an IP protectionist mindset,” Dr. Naqvi says and adds “The American Institute of Artificial Intelligence believes that all nations should have the ability to develop AI. However, each nation has the right to defend its competitive interests via strategic security confidentiality.”

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