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Automated warfare threatens to kill democracy if left unchecked
By Elliot Leavy  |  Nov 20, 2023
Automated warfare threatens to kill democracy if left unchecked
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Wars between Russia and Ukraine and Israel and Hamas have far-reaching consequences exacerbated by automation and digitalization. While big defense contractors are benefiting, democracy will lose out without proper safeguards, writes author and entrepreneur Elliot Leavy.

LONDON - As the events of past weeks and months have shown, war is a cynical and brutal affair. Since Israel’s response to the Hamas raid that led to the deaths of thousands and the kidnapping and torture of hundreds more, defense stocks worldwide have rocketed. The share price of global defense contractor  Maryland-based Lockheed Martin Corp (NYSE: LMT) rose over 12 percent to USD444 on October 20, from an October 5 low of USD396, while BAE Systems (LON: BA) , a fellow defense contractor headquartered in the United Kingdom, has climbed 25 percent since the start of 2023 to recently hit a record high. 

This may seem rotten, but there is a cold logic to it. When something is needed, it is valued, and one thing that companies particularly value today is automation. Defense giants around the globe have invested heavily in automated warfare technologies, preparing for a new era of combat that minimizes human involvement on the battlefield while maximizing efficiency and lethality. They invest because they know it is a huge market - the United States alone budgeted USD18 billion for autonomous weapons between 2016 and 2020.

The current shift is also different because the traditional behemoths of the defense sector are not the only ones driving it. The horizon of automated warfare has also given rise to entirely new players in the defense industry, particularly in Europe.

In September, Germany’s Helsing raised EUR209 million in a Series B funding round to bolster its vision of ‘protecting democratic societies’ through AI-based capabilities, an investment that makes it Europe's biggest unicorn in defense-related artificial intelligence (AI) and could potentially make it the continent’s largest AI company.

One should note that, when talking about AI in warfare, the spect

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