It’s a wrap! A year of responsible innovation in AI for disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation

December 21st, 2022

Thanks to a generous contribution from the Republic of Korea, in 2022 the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) and the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) carried out their first global project on the responsible innovation of AI for disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation.

Responsible AI is a young and evolving field of research and practice. While it is widely being discussed as a fitting approach to AI governance, more work needs to be done to understand how it can be put into practice across critical sectors, how to coordinate the many different approaches, and – crucially – how it relates to disarmament, peace and security challenges, including risks of misuse or diversion of civilian technologies.

To address this gap, the UNODA-SIPRI project has aimed to promote responsible innovation as an “upstream” contributor to disarmament, arms control, and non-proliferation efforts, and support greater engagement of young civilian AI practitioners.

In 2022, the project led to three key, and inter-connected, activities.

First, young post-graduate AI practitioners from around the world joined for a week of online workshops. Through interactive and scenario-based sessions, the diverse group of post-graduates were introduced to core disarmament concepts, encouraged to critically assess both the potentially beneficial and the potentially harmful repercussions of AI for disarmament, and challenged to think about the roles of other stakeholders involved with and affected by AI development, as well as the responsibilities of individuals and organizations.

Second, UNODA and SIPRI published an article on peace and security as a blind spot for the AI community in IEEE Spectrum, the magazine of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the world’s largest technical professional organization, and a key forum for AI practitioners. In the piece, the authors sought to connect existing civilian focused responsible AI efforts with peace and security, disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation concerns, and build on the work of the workshops in modelling possible approaches. 

An animated presentation on AI and peace and security takes viewers through key concepts.

Third, the project developed and trialled supporting educational materials with young practitioners, before building them out into a multi-format suite of factsheets, slide-decks and animated presentations, now available to all on the UNODA disarmament education website.

By engaging the next generation of industry leaders and providing them with the tools and frameworks necessary to be responsible innovators, this project continues UNODA and its partners’ efforts to bring fresh perspectives to complex issues while simultaneously creating and supporting a culture of responsible behaviour, accountability and adherence to norms, rules and principles for responsible innovation.

Representatives from the Office for Disarmament Affairs, the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, civil society and industry briefed on the topic of responsible innovation of AI at a side event at UN Headquarters in New York.

For further information on the Responsible Innovation and AI activities of the Office for Disarmament Affairs, please contact Mr. Charles Ovink, Political Affairs Officer, at