Biden, Xi Set to Ban AI Use in Drones, Nuclear Weapons

The meeting in San Francisco comes as U.S.-China relations have reached a low point

Deborah Yao, Editor, AI Business

November 15, 2023

2 Min Read
U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Getty Images

At a Glance

  • U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping are expected to ban the use of AI in drones and autonomous weapons.
  • They also are set to ban the use of AI in systems used to control and deploy nuclear warheads.
  • The two presidents are meeting on the sidelines of the APEC summit in San Francisco at a time when relations are frayed.

At a historic meeting Wednesday between U.S. President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping in San Francisco, the two leaders reportedly are expected to agree to ban the use of AI in autonomous weapons.

The South China Morning Post is reporting that the ban would apply to weaponry such as drones, which are increasingly being used in modern warfare such as the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Biden and Xi also are expected to ban the use of AI in systems that control and deploy nuclear warheads, according to the Post’s sources.

The potential risks posed by AI in warfare is expected to be the major focus of their discussions, which are taking place on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit (APEC) in San Francisco.

The meeting comes as U.S.-China relations have frayed over trade. The U.S. has been tightening exports of advanced AI chips and equipment to China due to national security concerns. China is America’s foremost AI rival whose military prowess could be further enabled by access to Silicon Valley’s best AI hardware and software.

This month, in a report to Congress by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, the authors said that the “rivalry between the United States and China was intensifying” and the “new normal is one of continuing, long-term strategic and systemic competition.”

Agreement on AI safety

But China is also signaling that it is concerned about the risks inherent in AI. Along with the U.S., the EU and 26 other countries, China attended the AI Safety Summit that was hosted by U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak two weeks ago. The attendees, including China and the U.S., signed an agreement to work globally to rein in potential harms from AI.

Moreover, the U.S. and China have endorsed the responsible use of AI in the military at the first global summit on the issue, in the Netherlands. The February 

In October, Xi announced the Global AI Governance Initiative for the development, security and governance of AI for the good of society. It includes establishing a testing and assessment system based on AI risk levels as well as calling for an international institution to govern AI, according to remarks from a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson.

In the same month, Biden signed an executive order regulating the use of AI, calling for the public vetting of AI models developed by leading AI companies, easing immigration rules for AI experts, among other stipulations. In November, Vice President Kamala Harris announced the creation of the U.S. AI Safety Institute to set guidelines for regulating AI.

This article first appeared in IoT World Today's sister publication AI Business.

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About the Author(s)

Deborah Yao

Editor, AI Business

Deborah Yao is an award-winning journalist who has worked at The Associated Press, Amazon and the Wharton School. A graduate of Stanford University, she is a business and tech news veteran with particular expertise in finance. She loves writing stories at the intersection of AI and business.

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