European Parliament restricts military use of Artificial Intelligence

“Artificial Intelligence must be subject to human control, allowing humans to correct or disable it in case of unforeseen behaviour”. That was the most important conclusion of yesterday’s plenary session in the European Parliament.

A report with guidelines on the use of Artificial Intelligence was adopted on Wednesday, with 364 votes in favour, 274 against, 52 abstentions. The adopted guidelines call for an EU legal framework on AI with definitions and ethical principles, including its military use. Important is the notion that AI cannot replace neither human decision-making nor human contact. 

The members of parliament emphasized that human dignity and human rights are always to be respected in all EU defence-related activities. Responsible and accountable use of AI-enabled systems requires that humans always can exert meaningful control. In recent years, the use of lethal autonomous weapon systems (LAWS) raised fundamental ethical and legal questions on human control. 

Earlier, several MEP’s called for a prohibition on the so-called “killer robots. “The decision to select a target and take lethal action using an autonomous weapon system must always be made by a human exercising meaningful control and judgement, in line with the principles of proportionality and necessity”, according to their statement. The guidelines further call on the EU to take a leading role  in creating and promoting a global framework governing the military use of AI, alongside the UN and the international community.

The French MEP Gilles Lebreton, who served as rapporteur for the guidelines, stated: “Faced with the multiple challenges posed by the development of AI, we need legal responses. To prepare the Commission’s legislative proposal on this subject, this report aims to put in place a framework which essentially recalls that, in any area, especially in the military field and in those managed by the state such as justice and health, AI must always remain a tool used only to assist decision-making or help when taking action. It must never replace or relieve humans of their responsibility”.