The State Department, in conjunction with other endorsing nation states, unveiled new artificial intelligence (AI) guidelines for military usage on Feb. 16.

The document – entitled Political Declaration on Responsible Military Use of Artificial Intelligence and Autonomy – offers a slew of best practices that the State Department believes should be implemented in the “development, deployment, and use of military AI capabilities.”

The framework – announced at the Summit on Responsible AI in the Military Domain – aims to build international consensus around how militaries can responsibly incorporate AI and autonomy into their operations.

“The Declaration consists of a series of non-legally binding guidelines describing best practices for responsible use of AI in a defense context,” the department said. “We believe that this Declaration can serve as a foundation for the international community on the principles and practices that are necessary to ensure the responsible military uses of AI and autonomy.”

The department listed 12 best practices, including ensuring that military AI systems are auditable, have explicit and well-defined uses, and are subject to rigorous testing and evaluation across their lifecycle. The guidelines also say that high-consequence applications should undergo senior-level review and be capable of being deactivated if they demonstrate unintended behavior.

The document states that endorsing states will not only implement the best practices offered by the State Department, but that they will also publicly commit to these practices, support other efforts to ensure that such capabilities are used responsibly, and further engage the rest of the international community to promote these practices.

“Military use of AI can and should be ethical, responsible, and enhance international security,” the document reads. “Use of AI in armed conflict must be in accord with applicable international humanitarian law.”

“A principled approach to the military use of AI should include careful consideration of risks and benefits, and it should also minimize unintended bias and accidents,” the State Department said.

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Cate Burgan
Cate Burgan
Cate Burgan is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.