It is the age of technology. With the increase in automatization more and more countries across the globe have developed and are developing systems that no longer require human beings to operate. Indeed, these new creations are not only automated but also autonomous. Significant developments in artificial intelligence (AI) over the past two decades have contributed to the extensive debate on the potential social, economic and security impact of AI-associated technologies. However, little or no attention has been paid the effects of AI on international relations and global diplomacy. It is crucial to investigate how technology impacts the activities of diplomats and policymakers.
While military strategists emphasize the importance of the potential utility of the autonomous systems, with the argument that these technologies can perform tasks that humans cannot, in addition to saving costs and ultimately reducing military casualties there are concerns on the application of the technique particularly in identification, selection, and implementation of force targets. Indeed, these concerns span not only ethical and legal considerations but also diplomatic ones. The autonomy of artificial weapons systems is accelerating largely outside both public and academic attention in international relations and global diplomacy. AI continues to change the environment in which diplomacy is practice in addition to providing new techniques for decision making and implementation. The paper argues while in no small extent AI will continue to promote efficiency in global diplomacy, there are various challenges associated with Al including a potential change in global power with devastating consequences and the possibility of destabilizing democracy and social equality.
What is Artificial Intelligence?
The term intelligence describes the ability to develop and apply different skills and knowledge to address a particular problem. Artificial intelligence encompasses the term intelligence that was traditionally only applicable as a characteristic in human beings. The fact that artificial systems are inherently different from human beings, there is a necessity to define in entirety what the term intelligence means (Surber, 2018, p. 2). Therefore, it encompasses the ability to understand, learn and adapt to facilitate the achievement of goals in a wide range of environments. Primarily, intelligence measures an agent’s ability to attain objectives in a diverse environment (Surber, 2018, p. 3). Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to technologies that can imitate human intelligence including performing activities that necessitate learning and thinking and subsequently problem solving. The term artificial intelligence currently represents the most financially lucrative scientific field in contemporary society. Many scholars acknowledge AI and related technologies as the fuel for the fourth industrial revolution associated with the 21st century (Brunette, Flemmer, & Flemmer, 2009, p. 385). AI is both a scientific and research field. As a scientific field, AI contemporary history is associated with the developments of electronic computers.
On the other hand, as a research tool AI is grounded on the ideology that every aspect of intelligence can be in theory so precise that technologies could be developed to simulate it (Surber, 2018, p. 3). In entirety, AI can be considered a scientific undertaking that intends to create software and machines that showcase traits that resemble human brain regarding intellect, problem-solving, discernment, learning and planning among other functions associated with the human brain. Grounded on the definition of AI there are several sections related to AI and related technologies including knowledge engineering, machine learning, reinforcement learning among others. Each of these parts reflects on the different functional aspects of AI and associated technologies. For instance, knowledge engineering involves designing and creating AI systems that have extensive information about the world. On the other hand, machine learning illustrates the probabilistic approach to AI (Surber, 2018, p. 4).
How does Artificial Intelligence operate?
There is a difference in the operations of an automated and an autonomous system. To understand the implications of AI in future global diplomacy, it is necessary to seek insight into how AI operates. A computerized system is one where a machine, for instance, a computer, executes tasks by a clear-if-then-else, rule-based structure works deterministically implying that in the event of similar input there is an expectation of similar output unless there is a system failure. An autonomous system, on the other hand, is one that does not depend on any predetermined set of rules and as such make decisions probabilistically (Cummings, 2017, p. 3). Therefore, for an autonomous system, given a set of inputs, the system makes guesses and subsequently decides on the best course of action. Unlike automated systems where a similar collection of data yield the same output that is not guaranteed in autonomous systems. To a large extent, the autonomous systems associated with AI works like the human mind but without the emotions.
Human beings intelligence primarily follows the perception-cognition-action sequence, in that individuals perceive something, think about what to do regarding what they have understood and proceed to take an action factor weighing various options (Cummings, 2017, p. 4). Artificial intelligence is programmed to adopt the perception-cognition-action processing loop through certain activities including how the computer senses the world, processes the information through utilizing various optimization, and verification algorithms and a such proceed to select the best course of action.
While the operations of AI intend to imitate the human brain, there are critical differences between the human mind and AI. For instance, how the world model is constructed in AI to no small extent determines the effectiveness of these systems. Autonomous systems that operate in a dynamic environment such as the contemporary society need to build and continually adapt to adequately reflect the prevailing conditions (Cummings, 2017, p. 4). The systems must perceive the world through various technologies such as cameras and microphones and then proceed to reconstruct what they observe in a way that the “brain” of the computer can understand. For instance, autonomous UAV navigation is relatively simple since the world model associated with its operations involves maps that the systems utilized to determine the best routes and no-fly zones given a set of input.
In comparison, driverless cars are much more complicated since there are various variables associated with effective operations. Driverless vehicles need mapping abilities, an in-depth understanding of all the nearby cars, pedestrians and cyclists in addition to anticipating the direction of these entities for the next few seconds (Cummings, 2017, p. 4). Therefore, the world model of driverless cars is much more advanced compared to UAV. The fact that human beings drive with minimal cognitive efforts reflects on the complexity associated with the operating and utilizing AI. The efforts in designing and applying AI is particularly challenging to international relations and global diplomacy since politics is one example of human behavior that is difficult to automate.
Artificial Intelligence and Global Diplomacy
Global diplomacy borrows from theoretical and conceptual foundations of contemporary diplomatic activities and practices intending to gain insight to facilitate an in-depth and practical approach to international politics and affairs. Therefore, there is a relationship between diplomacy and geopolitics and foreign affairs (Murray, Sharp, Wiseman, Criekmans, & Melissen, 2011, p. 715). Indeed, in the current society, the entirety of diplomacy constitutes geopolitical and geo-economic shifts that are currently taking place at both regional and global levels. Moreover, there is a relationship between diplomacy and foreign affairs in the sense that diplomacy can be considered as the activity, or a technique of representation, communication, and negotiation through which countries in addition to other international actors interact with each other (Murray, Sharp, Wiseman, Criekmans, & Melissen, 2011, p. 716). International affairs, on the other hand, describe the decisions made on behalf of a political unit, in this case, a state, that encompasses the achievement of goals with direct implications to the external environment. Therefore, diplomacy is both a foreign affairs input and output. As an input, it constitutes all the different diplomatic factors that influence foreign policy decision making while as an output it diplomacy is somewhat instrument in the foreign policy “toolbox” (Murray, Sharp, Wiseman, Criekmans, & Melissen, 2011, p. 716)
Across all the activities associated with human beings, politics can be categorized as one of the most challenging spectrums to automate. Throughout human history, politics at both national and international levels have been primarily and fundamentally driven and supported by conscious human action and the collective actions and interactions between and among individuals and organizations (Bode & Huelss, 2018, p. 2). The current advances in AI include but not limited to autonomous weapons, automated systems, drones, and predictive analytics hold a significant prospect for changing the decision-making techniques in international politics and global diplomacy. The concept of a non-human entity influencing foreign affairs and relations has the potential of creating radical changes that could change society’s understanding of politics and diplomacy. AI has impacted diplomacy in two keys ways including changing the environment in which diplomacy is practiced and by offering new tools to diplomats to assist in diplomatic activities and practices (Grottola, 2018).
Advantages Associated with AI in Global Diplomatic Efforts
The concept of global diplomacy is associated with several practices such as reporting, consular affairs, communication, and negotiation. While the use of AL in all these practices remains limited, there are extensive discussions and efforts of the potential implementation of these technologies in diplomatic activities. For instance, concerning consular affairs and public communication, many states across the globe are making efforts to integrate AI in these practices. Indeed, AI could positively influence diplomatic activities by streamlining and making bureaucratic functions more efficient. Undeniably, the foreign policy that leverage that existing tools of diplomacy in addition to encouraging and facilitating the responsible and systematic application of AI is likely, in the future, not only to be more widely accepted but also to stand a higher chance of achieving both national and international objectives.
On the predictive analytics function, AI might shortly have very acute impacts especially for a longer timeframe. The accuracy associated with predictive analytics illustrates that policymakers and states as a whole while having a more in-depth understanding of the potential outcomes related to a specific course of action (Cummings, Roff, Cukier, Parakilas, & Bryce, 2018, p. 5). At an operational capacity, the uses and subsequently the advantages or downsizes associated with AI are unlikely to materialize soon fully. This is because there are many regulatory, ethical and technological difficulties to the full application of AI through autonomous vehicles, weapons and other physical-world systems such as robotic personal assistants (Cummings, Roff, Cukier, Parakilas, & Bryce, 2018, p. 7). However, it is notably that rapid progress is evident in efforts of overcoming these barriers and achieving the full operational implications associated with AI. It is deductible, in the future, AI and associated technologies will radically transform not only the ways decisions are made but also influence the way the policies are implemented and evaluated. The advantage of AI in global diplomatic systems is evident in the national surveillance systems of different countries. The analytic function of AI can be potentially useful in the identification of human rights violations which is an essential concept in global diplomacy.
Moreover, digitalization and technological advancements have created an essential impact on the current society. The spread of AI across the globe and the dystopian has laid on the importance of different cultures in society. For instance, the dystopian use of AI by the Chinese government has challenged the promotion of western values and interests through multilateral engagement in addition to the extensive protection of human rights in the contemporary age of exponential technological development (Grottola, 2018).
Undeniably, artificial intelligence has an influence on several issues in the international political arena and subsequently global diplomacy. Some of the common problems are the applications of AI in military practices, human security, and economics. Regarding the military sector, it is credible to conclude that the applications of autonomous weapons systems are still a long way from achieving their full potential. Indeed, a combination of several operational and doctrinal issues continues to prevent the adoption of autonomous weapons hitherto (Scott, Heumann, & Lorenz, 2018, p. 7). The fact that remotely operated vehicles are becoming increasingly popular for some applications such as aerial and undersea reconnaissance pinpoints to a future characterized by extensive applications of AI in the military. Undeniably, there is currently a significant shift between the traditional defense and non-defense industries with future implications on how military systems are not only designed but also how they are acquired.
Concerning human security at an international capacity, it is evident that AI has positive implications for human safety. However, unlocking the advantages associated with AI in human security, it is necessary to understand the role that AI performs in human security in addition to critically evaluating the difference between utilizing data and knowledge. Artificial intelligence systems have the potential to effectively and accurately sort data while human beings remain better at using knowledge to make decisions. Therefore, in efforts of reaping the advantages associated with AI in human security, it is vital for individuals to recognize the different situations and cases where data analysis is sufficient and the instances where human knowledge is necessary for effective decision making and policy development. (Scott, Heumann, & Lorenz, 2018, p. 4) Moreover, for AI to be fully functional in human security across the globe, it is necessary for proactive measures to be taken to ensure equal access to technology irrespective of the level of development.
At an economic perspective in international politics, it is conclusive that AI will continue to reshape what works looks like but is it is unlikely to fundamentally change the economic power structures as they exist in the current society. Artificial intelligence systems employed in different sectors including operational, predictive and analytical roles are likely to create significant wealth especially for countries that have fully embraced the advantages associated with AI and related technologies
Therefore, it is conclusive that AI systems and associated technologies are likely to have profound impacts on the economic and geopolitical power balances and subsequently diplomatic activities. However, for the world to fully enjoy the benefits of these technologies, it is crucial for policymakers and diplomats to make efforts to ensure they do not serve to reinforce the current inequities that exist across the globe. Indeed, as mentioned, the existing application of AI and related technologies is grounded on economic advantages and as such many are developed at a national level and the majority do not extend to the global capacity. Therefore, for the practical application of AI and associated technologies in international affairs it is necessary for international co-operation to be promoted. Additionally, in the discourse of Ai and human rights, the private sector irrespective of the country merely adheres to the general ethical values rather than binding to the existing human rights provisions which would to no small extent affect their operations and subsequently their profit margins. Therefore, there is a necessity to emphasize the importance of the existing legal and ethical practices intended to protect and preserve human rights aspects in the design and application of technology.
Adverse Consequences of AI in Future Diplomatic Efforts
There are issues associated with the application of AI in diplomatic activities. For instance, there are several privacy issues related to the surveillance function of AI technology. For example, there has been extensive international criticism on China’s program that is dedicated to socially ranking the citizens depending on the behavior of its population (Grottola, 2018). The initiative assigns scores to the citizens grounded on the data obtained through partnerships with the private sector. Although the focus is that a single program in China, the application of AI for surveillance is a practice that many governments across the globe practices. While there are tremendous benefits associated with monitoring in the international politics, many of these systems violate privacy as such ignoring the fundamental essential human rights aspects advocated for across the globe (Wagner & Furst, 2018). Indeed, in the future, AI technologies will pose a significant challenge to the efforts of enhancing democratic institutions and protecting the aspect of social equality. AI-surveillance improved practices in no small extent constrain the civil rights and liberties of individuals in different states across the globe (Wagner & Furst, 2018). Ignoring civil rights implies that there is a likelihood that the current sociocultural conflicts are likely to be exacerbated through the perpetuation of the social bias and discriminations associated with the analytic and predictive functions of the AI algorithms. While it extends beyond the features of foreign policy to address the surveillance systems that different nations acquire and utilize, it is within the domain of global diplomacy to communicate the various practices to the rest of the world.
The advent of the internet and associated technologies in the 21st century has demonstrated the tension that exists beyond national and international security considerations and the freedoms that are achieved and implied through connectivity such as freedom of speech and freedom of movement. AI is likely to aggravate this tension since it facilitates enhanced government surveillance and censorship capabilities associated with AI will reach new levels of intrusiveness as states become more and more obsessive with the notion of national security (Wagner & Furst, 2018). Indeed, while there are several advantages associated with the predictive and analytical capabilities of AI systems, the challenge to foreign policy and global diplomacy is the ability of the AI era to influence and impact enlightened agendas as the application of AI in surveillance increases in addition to the rise in hyper-competitiveness among different states especially that developed economies.
Apart from civil rights concerns and the ability of AI systems to accelerate global inequality, how and when states deploy the AI can have very devastating consequences especially in the event the country or countries in question have superior capabilities in the AI domain. Undeniably, access to and the utilization of autonomous weapons, for instance, can change the global balance of power and as such affect global diplomatic activities (Mijatovic et al., 2019, p. 29). Challenges to regional and global power may occur as different countries make efforts to leverage the AI technology to reverse any historical or potential military disadvantage with their neighbors. Indeed, with efforts to further increase the accuracy and subsequently, the trust on AI systems is likely to create a large gap between the states that are adequately equipped with the systems with the countries that lack these systems (Cancio, Hibbard, Nelson, Claudio, & Psaila, 2018). For instance, the current power gap between developed and under-developed economies is likely to increase with notably unpredictable results.
While governments that make a conscious effort to develop and utilize AI responsibly through ensuring that human beings remain the ultimate decision-makers in life and death situation might be admired, they may be putting themselves and their citizens in danger and at a disadvantage in doing so. It is acknowledged the main factor that continues to influence the proliferation of AI and related technologies is the fact that every country wants to be at an advantage in the event of a war (Cummings, Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Warfare, 2017, p. 3). As such, pursuing AI and related technologies on the military battlefield with ethics in the mix may prove as a strategic disadvantage and a luxury that only a few states can afford since many countries will be unwilling to risk their national security and interests in the efforts of facilitating international relations and global diplomacy.
Moreover, there are concerns that AI and associated military systems and the application of AI in military-related decisions are likely to undermine diplomatic efforts. For centuries, humans have explored different approaches to conflict containment and de-escalation. Indeed, the institutions and the treaties utilized in the 20th century in conflict management as an extension foreign policy, arms control and non-proliferation were not intended to assimilate the extensive developments that the society has witnessed in AI in the past five decades (Surber, 2018, p. 16). The threat associated with AI in military engagements extends beyond their potential adverse effects to global diplomatic efforts to the fear that soon the AI weapons might come from non-state actors who in most cases have no regard for international politics and the associated peace endeavors. The significant advancements in AI advancements in military technology imply that the cost of acquiring AI weapon deployment for instance through the drone deployment is already low and likely to go even more economical to fall into the scope of even ignorant terrorists (Wagner & Furst, 2018). Therefore, it is necessary to acknowledge going forward; there is a threat that comes with the increasing degree of symmetry in the use of AI between national militaries and non-state actors who often utilize violence to achieve their agendas.
It is essential to mention that AI is likely to affect global diplomatic efforts by changing the way war is conducted. In the future, it is expected that different states would engage in data warfare rather than the traditional warfare were soldiers meet and engage each other in the battlefield (Cummings, Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Warfare, 2017, p. 3). Data warfare include virtual battlefields between the different forms of AI which will seek to disable each other, automatically infecting command and control systems with disinformation and malicious code to cripple the other country AI prowess. The future battlefield may include media forgeries developed and supported by AI to induce opposing populations into relying on false information or acting contrary to their interests with maximum efficiency (Wagner & Furst, 2018). The test of the extensive adverse consequences of AI has been witnessed in many developed economies such as the USA and many European countries through aspects such as fake news campaign that have worked to misinform the general public (Wagner & Furst, 2018). In future, such actions are likely to grow in scope and depth and as such prone to be associated with adverse effects of unimaginable proportions. Indeed, virtual warfare such as media forgeries will work to damage the integrity of the democratic discourse the pillar on which current efforts of global diplomacy is grounded. Moreover, the ease of inflicting extensive damage through the application of AI illustrates that it will be easier to damage the reputation of states and associated institutions and representatives while challenging to repair (Wagner & Furst, 2018). Global diplomacy is based on the normal that nations will act and deliver to international politics as agreed upon and as such damaged reputation to no small extent illustrates the inefficiency of diplomatic efforts.
AI systems might lead to a situation where fewer human beings make high-level decisions. Additionally, at an analytical capacity, AI is associated with the automation of repetitive tasks such as monitoring aspects that are used to ensure different states comply with their treaty agreements. The effect on decision-making systems illustrates that future international politics practices will be attenuated rather than transformative.
The extensive adverse consequences to diplomatic efforts that might be related to AI in the future puts arms control and non-proliferation strategies to a whole new paradigm. There is a need to align foreign conventional foreign policies among allies in efforts of deterring misinformed applications of AI by both enemy states and nefarious non-state actors (Wagner & Furst, 2018). While many governments continue to invest in the development of AI for the future, there is little understanding inside governments and as an extension diplomats on how these technologies future and the options available to counter them in the event their application becomes excessive in addition to deteriorating intentional peace. Undeniably, governments continue to invest in AI future while ignoring their responsibility to design and articulate actionable red lines that will control the application of AI and associated technologies (Abhijeet, 2018). It is crucial for states and the international community as a whole to devise strategies and laws that will ensure AI and related technology are used according to the norms and the boundaries of international law and in the context of human rights if the advantages of AI technologies are to maximized while minimizing adverse consequences to diplomatic efforts.
Artificial intelligence describes a scientific endeavor that creates machines and software that are capable of imitating human intelligence and as an extension apply the perception-cognition-action processing sequence in decision making. As artificial intelligence continues to evolve, it is having a profound impact on many sectors that may be seemingly unrelated to it such as international relations and global diplomacy. While some countries, are pursuing AI technologies and their applications within the confinements of international law and the generally accepted principles of operations, others are actively doing what is necessary to achieve AI supremacy with the argument that the efforts ensure the protection of their interests. The consequences of these actions are excessive or under-utilization of AI, which threatens efforts of global diplomacy and subsequently international peace.
In the diplomatic platform, artificial intelligence influences the actions of policymakers by changing the environment, besides, to directly impacting how the decisions are made and implemented. There are many advantages associated with artificial intelligence that either directly or indirectly assists diplomatic efforts. AI directly supports various economic and social activities that enable different states to compete and as such develop. For instance, improved surveillance and autonomous weapons support global diplomacy by facilitating national and international peace. However, there are disruptive factors to diplomatic efforts associated with the rapid development of AI including changing the global balance of power and the likelihood that AI military systems and decision making will undermine the current conflict de-escalation strategies. Moreover, AI will facilitate data warfare between and among nations with devastating consequences. Undeniably, AI and related technologies pose challenges to efforts of democracy and social equality some of the most critical concepts in global diplomacy.
While it is evident AI and related technologies are here to stay; it is vital for the international community to emphasize the importance of responsible and systematic adoption of AI to facilitate practical diplomatic efforts in the future. Concerns on the application of AI in the society currently extend beyond their economic and social implications to encompass issues of international security, foreign relations, and global diplomacy. The effects of AI, directly and indirectly, influence the actions of different states in the international community. Acknowledging the potential of a full application of AI in various activities shortly, it is necessary to quantify how these technologies will affect the fundamentals of global diplomacy such as ethics and regard for human rights. Indeed, while it is vital for society to embrace autonomous systems in this technological era, it will be a waste if the technology transforms the aspects that makeup humanity.
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