Dr. Henry Kissinger shakes hands with Mao Tse-Tung, China’s leader, as President Gerald Ford looks on. (Source: National Archives)

Kissinger Expresses Concerns about AI Catastrophe If Used in Warfare

On November 16th, three panelists gathered at the Washington National Cathedral to discuss the pros and cons of AI. One of the panelists was the former CEO of Google Eric Schmidt. Another participant was Anne Neuberger, the Biden administration’s deputy national security adviser for cyber and emerging technology. But an article written by David Ignatius for the Washington Post was focused on the third member, Dr. Henry Kissinger, 99.

Kissinger described AI as the new frontier of arms control and if leading powers don’t find ways to limit AI’s reach, he said, “it is simply a mad race for some catastrophe.”

The warning from Kissinger, one of the world’s most prominent statesmen, shows the global concern about the lack of regulation as AI interacts with “global business, finance, and warfare.” He spoke by video connection at a cathedral forum titled “Man, Machine, and God,” which was this year’s topic in the annual Nancy and Paul Ignatius Program.

As President Richard Nixon’s Secretary of State, Kissinger strategized the fighting in Vietnam and Southeast Asia. He also brokered the long-sought-after meeting between the United States and China.

He cautioned that AI systems could transform warfare just as they have chess or other games of strategy — because they are capable of making moves that no human would consider but that have devastatingly effective consequences.

“What I’m talking about is that in exploring legitimate questions that we ask them, they come to conclusions that would not necessarily be the same as we—and we will have to live in their world,” Kissinger said.

Kissinger joins a huge chorus of voices that have long warned about AI. The world-changing power of AI has become a primary concern for Kissinger in his late 90s, with Schmidt as his guide. The two co-wrote a book last year with MIT professor Daniel Huttenlocher titled “The Age of AI: And Our Human Future,” which described the opportunities and dangers of the new technology.

In an essay from four years ago, Kissinger wrote: “Philosophically, intellectually—in every way—human society is unprepared for the rise of artificial intelligence.”

But others will tell you that every day we get more prepared and more adept at using AI. In the last few years, we have seen astounding growth in just the medical field alone that has harnessed the power of AI to heal, not end mankind. Dr. Kissinger is pretty sure we will get it right:

“I retain my optimism in the sense that if we don’t solve it, it’ll literally destroy us. … We have no choice.”

read more at washingtonpost.com