Until now, we’ve been reporting all the good things that artificial intelligence can bring into our daily lives. But now, AI may soon be used to deliver death to our doorstep. In what many consider to be an alarming piece of news, China is reportedly building a fleet of cruise missiles with artificial intelligence capability.
What is this Missile called the “Death Drone”?
Dubbed “Death Drones”, China is developing what are being called “fire and forget” weapons controlled by artificial intelligence technology that will tell them where to go, what target to strike and even allow them to make in-flight decisions on new targets. The cruise missiles will be modular, which means the payload, fuel capacity and other components can be changed to suit whatever is being targeted.
According to the director of General Design Department of the Third Academy of the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp, Wang Changqing:
“We plan to adopt a ‘plug and play’ approach in the development of new cruise missiles, which will enable our military commanders to tailor-make missiles in accordance with combat conditions and their specific requirements.
Moreover, our future cruise missiles will have a very high level of artificial intelligence and automation.
They will allow commanders to control them in a real-time manner, or to use a fire-and-forget mode, or even to add more tasks to in-flight missiles.”
Hmm, plug and play – strange choice of phrases for missiles that are capable of wiping out thousands of lives in mere seconds. Wang Changqing says that China is leading the world in AI weaponry, so they’re obviously sending a strong message to someone. But who?
Dangerous Implications or Mere Muscle-flexing?
I’m almost afraid to ask, but could this be the start of a new arms race between an emerging superpower and the United States? With trillions of dollars in bilateral trade between the two countries, that would be hugely counterproductive. Besides, the United States is not going to sit quietly while China tests AI weapons of mass destruction – especially not when they have long-range capability.
So why would China need a “smart” missile? Are there merely posturing for the benefit of any upstart Asia-Pacific countries that might be eyeing China’s outlying territories? The fact that China is making this news public is reassuring in a weird way. A secret test would probably be more terrifying because it carries unspoken undertones. But China is obviously happy to go public with this news, so what’s the angle?
The most likely explanation is the denial by the international arbitration panel to give China rights to a huge portion of the South China Sea, and China’s subsequent rejection of that ruling.
Or is there more to it than that?
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