European Union External Action

Lethal autonomous weapons and cyber threats on Global Tech Panel agenda in Seattle

09/03/2019 - 11:20
News stories

The Global Tech Panel met on 09 March at Microsoft HQ to focus on the legal landscape for autonomous weapons and cyber security.

The Global Tech Panel held its third meeting on 09 March in Seattle. Its discussions focused primarily on the international security aspects of digital technologies.

The nature of conflict has changed throughout history. Today, cyberspace has emerged as the latest front, as the newst advances in digital technology not only bring enormous benefits for humankind, but can also be weaponised. An "artificial intelligence arms race" may be looming on the horizon.

The Panel's work on Artificial Intelligence and international security reflects the high priority given by the EU to ensuring the principles of ethical and responsible innovation underpin the development of technologies used in weapons systems, and to ensure accountability and compliance with international law.

"There is a genuine anxiety among many of us and our fellow citizens about this," said EU High Representative Federica Mogherini following the meeting, noting that the discussions of the Global Tech Panel had helped to define more precisely the risks involved and possible mitigating actions – starting from the perspective of international law and ensuring that existing laws of armed conflict can accommodate Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems. "I have already raised with EU Defence Ministers the need to have a substantial discussion soon" added the High Representative.

A second strand of discussion was cybersecurity.

With much of the world's cyber infrastructure in private hands, the private sector clearly has a role to play in keeping cyberspace open and secure as well. The Seattle meeting offered an off-the-record opportunity to reflect on cybersecurity incident response requirements in a changing threat landscape.

"The EU needs to redouble its efforts on cybersecurity incident response," said Ms. Mogherini. "Speed is of the essence, as is the need to have tech experts and data scientists at the table."

"I will explore further avenues of action with my EU counterparts, taking into account our exisiting efforts here,"concluded the High Representative.