AI for Good blog

Why disarmament sits at the intersection between technology and security (VIDEO)


Artificial intelligence (AI) has come to impact every industry and every discipline. It’s a feature and an enabler that helps us and enhances different processes.

The same can be said for the field of disarmament and international security.

This was the key message from Anja Kaspersen, Director of the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs at the AI for Good Global Summit 2018 at ITU headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

“Disarmament finds itself at the intersection between technology and security,” she said. “There is a negative and positive side to it.”

Though it is worrying to think about how AI can be used in new weapons technology, Ms. Kaspersen says it is as important to talk about how disarmament can help achieve some of the sustainable development goals (SDGs), particularly those related to strong institutions, as well as growth and innovation.

“The technology is basic so we need to build that literacy to enable people to engage with it differently than we have done so far.”

“How do you make some of these advances in science and technology responsible? How do you create strong institutions around how we implement and apply these things?” she asks.

Another upside where there is a lot of untapped potential is the use of AI in assessing large amounts of data. Regarding disarmament, it can be used in verification, detection, tracing and risk mitigation, says Kaspersen.


As for what has changed since last year’s Summit, Ms. Kaspersen notes that the discussions have become more engaging and mature. It is less hype-based and there is more awareness.

“I am optimistic to see that there is a much greater willingness to discuss the risks that need to be tackled before we can fully optimize AI for good,” she said.

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Moving forward, Ms. Kaspersen realizes that maintaining a collaborative spirit is going to be a challenge, because everyone comes at it from different angles.

How do you bring people from different disciplines together and make ‘AI for Good’ work from the design phase into the development and application phase?

But more importantly, people should not see this technological revolution as something that is beyond themselves.

“The technology is basic so we need to build that literacy to enable people to engage with it differently than we have done so far,” said Ms. Kaspersen. We must “empower to engage and engage to empower.”

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