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New NTI Paper Assesses Benefits and Risks of AI in Nuclear-Weapon Systems

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A new NTI paper, Assessing and Managing the Benefits and Risks of Artificial Intelligence in Nuclear-Weapon Systems, explores the possible applications of AI to nuclear-weapons systems and assesses the benefits, risks, and strategic stability implications.

The paper’s analysis finds that AI in nuclear-weapon systems is neither all good nor all bad and must be considered in the context of the specific application and the geopolitical environment. However, because AI implementation in nuclear-weapon systems appears inevitable, the paper recommends actions to take now to realize the benefits and manage the risks as the technology matures and strategic stability implications are better understood and discussed within the international community.

“Because of the high potential consequences, AI use in nuclear-weapon systems seems to be proceeding at a slower pace—or perhaps more covertly—than other military applications,” the authors write. “Nonetheless, the potential for AI application to nuclear-weapon systems is likely to grow as the military use of AI develops concurrently with nuclear-weapons system modernization and diversification.”

The paper was co-authored by Jill Hruby, who served as the inaugural Sam Nunn Distinguished Fellow at NTI from November 2018 to November 2019 and continued working part-time with NTI as a Distinguished Fellow from November 2019 to July 2021. The paper was initiated while Hruby was the Sam Nunn Distinguished Fellow and completed during her period as a Distinguished Fellow. In July 2021, Hruby was confirmed as the Under Secretary for Nuclear Security in the Department of Energy.

Working with Hruby was co-author M. Nina Miller, an intern at NTI during the summer and fall of 2019. Miller is currently a PhD student in security studies and international relations at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

About the Nuclear Threat Initiative

The Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) is a nonprofit global security organization focused on reducing nuclear and biological threats imperiling humanity.

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