It is easy to confuse the current geopolitical situation with that of the 1980s. The United States and Russia each accuse the other of interfering in domestic affairs. Russia has annexed territory over U.S. objections, raising concerns about military conflict.

As during the Cold War after World War II, nations are developing and building weapons based on advanced technology. During the Cold War, the weapon of choice was nuclear missiles; today its software, whether its used for attacking computer systems or targets in the real world.

As tensions between the US and Russia escalate, both sides are developing technological capabilities, including artificial intelligence that could be used in the conflict. Artificial intelligence has increasingly been integrated into the weapons systems of the world’s leading militaries, and at least one expert has said the futuristic technology may soon be the subject of a new Cold War.

In a piece published Tuesday by The Conversation, North Dakota State University assistant professor Jeremy Straub argued that unlike the nuclear weapons that dominated much of the 21st century arms race between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, the use of cyberweapons and artificial intelligence largely remained “fair game,” even as tensions again flared between the rivals. Both countries have invested heavily in developing new tools to wage war on this new front, but Russia particularly has sought to use it as an opportunity to upstage the more conventionally powerful U.S.

Russian rhetoric about the importance of artificial intelligence is picking up – and with good reason: As artificial intelligence software develops, it will be able to make decisions based on more data, and more quickly, than humans can handle.

Just like the Cold War in the 1940s and 1950s, each side has reason to fear its opponent gaining a technological upper hand. In a recent meeting at the Strategic Missile Academy near Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested that AI may be the way Russia can rebalance the power shift created by the US outspending Russia nearly 10-to-1 on defence each year. Russia’s state-sponsored RT media reported AI was “key to Russia beating [the] US in defence.”

This is a grave cause of worry that the world is entering or perhaps already in another cold war, fueled by AI.



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