A State Department official is pushing Thursday for China and Russia to declare that only humans – and not artificial intelligence – will make decisions on deploying nuclear weapons. 

Paul Dean, an official in the State Department’s Bureau of Arms Control, Deterrence, and Stability, said during a press briefing that the U.S. has already made “a very clear and strong commitment that in cases of nuclear employment, that decision would only be made by a human being. 

“We would never defer a decision on nuclear employment to AI. We strongly stand by that statement and we’ve made it publicly with our colleagues in the UK and France,” he continued. 

“We would welcome a similar statement by China and the Russian Federation,” Dean added, noting that “we think it’s an extremely important norm of responsible behavior.” 

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Xi, Putin

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands in Moscow in March 2023. (Xie Huanchi/Xinhua via Getty Images)

The State Department has said that Secretary of State Blinken and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi spoke about “artificial intelligence risks and safety” during a meeting last Friday in Beijing. 

“I do think that there is a real opportunity right now as countries increasingly turn to artificial intelligence to establish what the rules of responsible and stabilizing behavior will look like.  And I think it’s – this is a conversation… that I think all major militaries and major economies – like the United States and China – have to deal with,” Dean said Thursday. 

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China's military participates in drills

Soldiers take up positions during military drills in Jiangxi, China, on Jan. 29, 2023. Dean said Thursday that AI will “revolutionize militaries.” (CFOTO/Future Publishing via Getty Images)

He mentioned that the U.S. and 54 partners – not including China and Russia – have endorsed a political declaration on responsible uses of military AI, which will “ensure there is no accountability gap in the use of artificial intelligence in the military, and ensure that the applications are designed and used according to rigorous technical specifications, with some designs built in to ensure that there can be safeguards and that the technology can be used in a responsible way.” 

Blinken meets China's president

Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping on April 26 in Beijing. (AP/Mark Schiefelbein)

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“This technology will really revolutionize militaries across a range of applications,” Dean also said.

 “And I would emphasize here that the issue is not limited to battlefield use but these technologies will be used by militaries across the entire range of their operations on efficiencies and logistics, decision making. And I think this presents great promise and I think there’s significant upside in this, but of course, as with all new technologies, there are risks if the technology is not used in a responsible way.” 

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