On National Knowledge Day in Russia in 2017, Russian President Vladimir Putin ominously predicted to a group of students in the Yaroslavl region that whoever leads in artificial intelligence (AI) will rule the world. While this statement may seem hyperbolic, he is not wrong. The world’s defense systems have evolved far from only frontline military warfare, and the U.S. must incorporate more modern technologies such as AI into its military operations in order to stay ahead in this arena.
AI can serve as an effective instrument for land, air, sea, and space war fighting domains. There are many areas where AI is applicable in military operations and many reasons to incorporate more AI into the battlefield. One of the most convincing reasons to do so is to preserve human life and make easy, but dangerous tasks less of a risk.
One important area where the U.S military could use AI is in transportation and logistics – for instance, self-driving vehicles or robots. AI could prove to be a very effective tool for transporting military supplies such as ammunition and armaments. Doing so could lower transportation costs and decrease the risk of loss of human life in conflict areas, where transporting supplies is quite dangerous for military personnel.
Another area where the current system lacks is in Cybersecurity. Our defense has evolved from frontline military operations to securing cyber networks. The 2016 election hacking by Russia and the SolarWinds attack are two of the most offensive cyber actions taken against the U.S. and verify conclusively that our networks are penetrable and susceptible to attacks. However, the use of AI could help to circumvent this issue. According to Market Research, “systems equipped with AI can autonomously protect networks, computers, programs and data from unauthorized access.” Additionally, AI has the capability to decipher and document patterns and techniques that cyber actors use for attacks and can help develop counter-attack tools to combat these malign actors.
There are many other areas where AI could be beneficial in military operations such as delivering battlefield aid and healthcare, implanting AI into advanced weaponry, recognition and analysis of targets, combat simulations, and training of military personnel. The U.S. is currently leading in AI, but it must do better to incorporate AI into military operations and set aside a sufficient amount of the defense budget for AI development – 3.4% of the DOD budget is necessary, according to Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Michael S. Groen, Director of the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center. In order to successfully incorporate these technologies into military operations, the DOD should partner with innovative tech companies that are leading in modern technologies in order to stay ahead of the game.
Written by Sarah Wood