In other words, they want to give an AI the nuclear codes. And yes, as the authors admit, it sure sounds a lot like the “Doomsday Machine” from Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 satire “Dr. Strangelove.”
The “Dead Hand” referenced in the title refers to the Soviet Union’s automated system that would have launched nuclear weapons if certain conditions were met, including the death of the Union’s leader.
This time, though, the AI-powered system suggested by Lowther and McGiffin wouldn’t even wait for a first strike against the US to occur — it would know what to do ahead of time.
“[I]t may be necessary to develop a system based on artificial intelligence, with predetermined response decisions, that detects, decides, and directs strategic forces with such speed that the attack-time compression challenge does not place the United States in an impossible position,” they wrote.
The attack-time compression is the phenomenon that modern technologies, including highly sensitive radar and near instantaneous communication, drastically reduced the time between detection and decision time. The challenge: modern weapon technologies, particularly hypersonic cruise missiles and aircraft, cut the window even further.
The advent of first strike weapons like hypersonic missiles and artificial intelligence “dead man’s switches” represent significant amplification of geopolitical stress.