An official website of the United States Government 
Here's how you know

Official websites use .gov

.gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS

A lock ( lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

DOD Committed to Ethical Use of Artificial Intelligence

The Defense Department is prioritizing ethical considerations and collaboration in its approach to developing and fielding military applications of artificial intelligence, a top Pentagon technology official said today.

Michael C. Horowitz, the director of the emerging capabilities policy office in the office of the undersecretary of defense for policy, underscored the U.S.' commitment to leading the international conversation surrounding artificial intelligence during a panel discussion in Washington on setting rules and expectations for emerging technologies in national security.

A man in uniform points to a computer screen.
MQ-9 Simulator
A pilot with the 492nd Attack Squadron instructs students from the University of California, San Diego in an MQ-9 simulator at March Air Reserve Base, Calif., Feb. 17, 2023.
Photo By: Air National Guard Staff Sgt. Joseph Pagan
VIRIN: 230217-Z-WT190-2083

Underpinning this commitment, Horowitz said, is a comprehensive set of policy decisions within DOD that governs the development and fielding of autonomous weapon systems, ethical artificial intelligence strategy, and the development of responsible artificial intelligence strategy and pathways.

U.S. leadership, in codifying these principles, is now driving responsible artificial intelligence policy formulation among international partners, he said.

"If you look at NATO's ethical AI principles, for example, they're very similar to the Defense Department's ethical AI principles and that's not that's not an accident," Horowitz said. "It reflects in many ways the sort of common values and perspective on how we're thinking about... when we would want to use AI and how."

He said U.S. also led on the international stage by issuing its Political Declaration of Responsible Military use of Artificial Intelligence and Autonomy in February.

A photo illustration depicting a soldier wearing virtual reality glasses with a chess set in the foreground.
Virtual Reality
A soldier wears virtual reality glasses; a graphic depiction of a chess set sits in the foreground. Illustration created by NIWC Pacific.
Photo By: Courtesy Photo
VIRIN: 210128-N-N1809-001C

"That's a set of strong norms that lay out principles of what responsible use looks like that we're now working to bring other countries on board to endorse since we think that bringing the international community together on this issue, that there is a lot of possibility for cooperation and we want to encourage the rest of the world to take these issues as seriously as the department has," Horowitz said. "And in looking at our allies and partners, we're really encouraged by that."

That commitment to the responsible development of artificial intelligence, and its transparency concerning the development of policy surrounding emerging technologies, is also how the U.S. has distinguished itself from its global competitors, he said.

He said all DOD policy surrounding artificial intelligence and emerging technology is publicly available.

A small drone is photographed while hovering.
Unmanned Aircraft
An autonomous unmanned aircraft system is tested during the 10X Robotic and AI Equipped Dismounted Infantry platoon mission scenario at Ft. Moore Ga., July 28, 2022.
Photo By: Alexander Gago, DOD
VIRIN: 220728-O-AC924-162

"That's in contrast to some of the competitors of the United States who are a lot less transparent in what their policies are concerning the development and use of artificial intelligence and autonomous systems, including autonomous weapons systems," Horowitz said. "And we think that there's a real distinction there."

At the same time, the U.S. has remained committed to being at the leading edge of emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence, Horowitz said.

He said the rapid advance of the technology has opened up a wide array of use cases for artificial intelligence beyond defense. The U.S. continues to be "an engine of innovation when it comes to AI."

"The Defense Department does lots and lots of different experimentation with emerging technologies," Horowitz said. "And we both want to do them in a safe and responsible way, but also want to do them in a way that can push forward the cutting edge and ensure the department has access to the emerging technologies that it needs to stay ahead."

Related Stories