Artificial Intelligence and Global Security Initiative Research Agenda

We are poised at the beginning of a new industrial revolution, this one powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.  The past several years have seen rapid advances in AI technology, driven in large part by deep neural networks. Machines have bested humans in a variety of games, including chess, Jeopardy, Go, and poker, and are now being applied to help solve a wide variety of practical problems, such as health care, finance, and transportation.   

AI is already having a significant impact on national security. Automation is used heavily in cyber security and defense applications. As AI improves, machines will be capable of handling more sophisticated tasks in more complex environments, sometimes aiding human decision-making and sometimes operating autonomously.

Past industrial revolutions led to changes in the balance of power between nations and even the fundamental building blocks of power, with coal- and steel-producing nations benefiting and oil becoming a global strategic resource. The AI revolution has similar potential to shift power globally among nation-states and private actors.

The Center for a New American Security’s Artificial Intelligence and Global Security Initiative explores these and other issues surrounding the AI revolution. Current AI technology is powerful, but also has a number of vulnerabilities, including susceptibility to spoofing (false data) and control problems. An arms race in AI where nations and other actors rush to use this technology for their advantage without any concern for safety would be harmful to everyone. It is vitally important for the technology and policy communities to come together to better understand the implications of the AI revolution for global security and how best to navigate the challenges ahead.

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Key research questions include:

Shifting Power Dynamics

The Character of Conflict 

Crisis Stability 

AI Safety 

Prospects for Cooperation

More information on the Artificial Intelligence and Global Security Initiative can be found at