October 24, 2023

AI Is Already at War

How Artificial Intelligence Will Transform the Military

In 2002, a special operations team practiced raiding a safehouse. The team silently approached a two-story building, built for military training, where a fictitious terrorist leader was hiding. One soldier crept up to an open window and tossed in a small drone piloted by artificial intelligence. The AI drone began flying autonomously through the building, room by room, beaming footage from its camera directly to the commander’s handheld tablet outside. In just a few minutes, the team had full situational awareness of the interior of the building. It knew which rooms were empty, which were occupied by sleeping family members, and where the primary target was. The team entered the building knowing exactly where to go, reducing the risk for each member. The drill was a success: had it been real, the team would have killed the terrorist leader.

The stakes of slowing AI down are unacceptably high, but so are the stakes of racing ahead without needed precautions.

The AI-piloted quadcopter, designed by Shield AI (where I was an adviser), has since been used in real-world operations. It is just one of the many ways that AI is beginning to reshape U.S. national security. The U.S. military is using AI to optimize everything from equipment maintenance to budgetary decisions. Intelligence analysts are relying on AI to quickly scan mountains of information to identify relevant patterns that enable them to make better judgments and to make them faster. In the future, Americans can expect AI to change how the United States and its adversaries fight on the battlefield, as well. In short, AI has sparked a security revolution—one that is just starting to unfold.

Read the full article from Foreign Affairs.

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