October 15, 2018updated 04 Jan 2019 3:53pm

UN urged to develop global AI platform to predict wars

By Lucy Ingham

The United Nations has been urged to develop an international artificial intelligence platform that would forecast the outbreak of war and determine ways to prevent it. In an article in the journal Nature, three experts called on the UN to invest in the development of such a global AI platform.

The experts, Professor Kristian Gleditsch, University of Essex professor of political science, Weisi Gui, University of Warwick associate professor, and Alun Wilson, Alan Turing Institute chief executive, argued that such a global AI platform would save thousands of lives and billions of dollars.

While major wars have been on the decline, smaller scale conflicts and terrorism incidents have been on the rise, with 100,000 people now killed each year in conflicts.

“Our current systems for predicting conflict are just not sophisticated enough,” said Gleditsch.

“Future systems need to do more than make predictions, they must offer explanations for violence and strategies for preventing it.”

A global AI platform to predict and prevent war

The early work on developing such a platform has already started, including agreeing what data should be used to form the basis of it, and how it would be structured and modelled.

And while the platform may sound like the stuff of science fiction, it would be possible – albeit challenging – to achieve.

“This will be difficult because conflict is dynamic and multi-dimensional, but it is possible if we develop new machine-learning techniques, if we had more information about the wider causes of conflicts and their resolution and if we had theoretical models that better reflect the complexity of social interactions and human decision-making,” said Gleditsch.

“We feel an international consortium should be set up, involving academic institutions, governments and international organisations, to take this work forward.”

However, such a sophisticated and multifaceted AI platform would be very expensive, which is why the UN is being called upon to provide funding. Despite this, it would save money for the global economy.

“Establishing this platform would cost tens of millions of dollars, a fraction of the billions that the world pays to cope with conflict,” he explained.

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