Developers Wrangle With the Role of AI On the Battlefield

The use of artificial intelligence in combat was debated on multiple fronts this week, with OpenAI on the hot seat at the World Economic Forum in Davos and Kratos Defense expanding its anti-drone and air defense technologies.

During the international gathering of public and private sector leaders, OpenAI clarified its stance on the military use of its AI models after the company quietly changed its terms of service last week. These terms previously prohibited the use of ChatGPT for military purposes.

“A lot of these policies were written before we even knew what these people would use our tools for,” OpenAI Vice President of Global Affairs Anna Makanju told Bloomberg. “So this was not just the adjustment of the military use case policies, but across the board to make it more clear, so people understand what is possible, and what is not possible.”

On Friday, The Intercept reported that OpenAI deleted its ban on using ChatGPT for “Military and Warfare” purposes without notice. OpenAI’s original terms of service prohibited the use of ChatGPT for “activity that has high risk of physical harm.”

Makanju said that the change in OpenAI’s policy was due to the perception that banning ChatGPT for military purposes could keep the popular AI from being used for more benign cases, like providing help to veterans and strengthening cybersecurity.

“We still prohibit the development of weapons, the destruction of property, harm to individuals, but for example, we’ve been doing work with the Department of Defense on cybersecurity tools for open-source apps that secures critical infrastructure, we’ve been exploring whether it can assist with veteran suicide,” she said.

When asked whether the U.S. government asked OpenAI to restrict their level of cooperation with militaries in other countries, Makanju said they have not.

“For now, our discussions are focused on United States national security agencies,” Makanju said. “We have always believed that democracies need to be in the lead on this technology.”

While OpenAI’s public stance remains “do no harm” with the rise of generative AI, military defense contractors have sought ways to leverage artificial intelligence on and off the battlefield.

On Tuesday, Kratos Defense, developers of the AI-powered XQ-58A Valkyrie warplane, announced the company received $50 million in awards. The company says the funds will go towards products and hardware, including Counter Unmanned Aerial Systems (CUAS), Air Defense, and Radar Systems.

“Kratos’ technology, products, software, and systems are supporting the U.S. warfighter and our

allies defense and security related needs and requirements, including in current contested and high intensity conflict areas globally,” Kratos Defense President and CEO Eric DeMarco said in a statement.

Kratos Defense declined Decrypt’s request to comment further.

In June, Kratos Defense tapped artificial intelligence developer Shield AI to integrate an AI aviator into the Valkryie. Later that summer, the Valkyrie completed its most recent flight at the time, flying in formation with other US Air Force planes.

“Kratos’ ability to rapidly develop, produce, and provide relevant, affordable solutions at scale and in quantity, we believe, is a competitive differentiator for our Company, customers, teammates, and partners, and an important element of today’s global security and defense environment,” DeMarco said.

Edited by Ryan Ozawa.

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