December 19, 2019
Artificial Intelligence, Foresight, and the Offense-Defense Balance
There is a growing perception that AI will be a transformative technology for international security. The current U.S. National Security Strategy names artificial intelligence as one of a small number of technologies that will be critical to the country’s future. Senior defense officials have commented that the United States is at “an inflection point in the power of artificial intelligence” and even that AI might be the first technology to change “the fundamental nature of war.”
However, there is still little clarity regarding just how artificial intelligence will transform the security landscape. One of the most important open questions is whether applications of AI, such as drone swarms and software vulnerability discovery tools, will tend to be more useful for conducting offensive or defensive military operations. If AI favors the offense, then a significant body of international relations theory suggests that this could have destabilizing effects. States could find themselves increasingly able to use force and increasingly frightened of having force used against them, making arms-racing and war more likely. If AI favors the defense, on the other hand, then it may act as a stabilizing force.
Read the full article in War on the Rocks.
Learn more about the Artificial Intelligence and International Stability Project:
More from CNAS
AI Nuclear Weapons Catastrophe Can Be Avoided
AI-enabled nuclear weapons are particularly concerning due to their civilization-destroying nature....
By Noah Greene
Transcript from Artificial Intelligence and the Role of Confidence-Building Measures
On March 5, 2021, the CNAS Technology and National Security Program hosted a virtual discussion on AI and the role of confidence-building measures. This event is a part of the...
By Paul Scharre, Helen Toner, Michael Horowitz & Kerstin Vignard
AI & Military Procurement: What Computers Still Can’t Do
Not all artificial intelligence (AI) is made equal. A wide range of different techniques and applications fall under the term “AI.” Some of these techniques and applications w...
By Maaike Verbruggen
When machine learning comes to nuclear communication systems
Nuclear deterrence depends on fragile, human perceptions of credibility. As states armed with nuclear weapons turn to machine learning techniques to enhance their nuclear com...
By Philip Reiner, Alexa Wehsener & M. Nina Miller