Why AI Is Such An Important Factor For The Future Of America’s DoD
Improvement is a primary factor driving military technologists to incorporate more robust and effective AI solutions in a variety of applications, most notably as regards Deportment of Defense infrastructure.
In a remote interview with Pentagon officials on June 4, 2020, Lt. Gen. John N.T. “Jack” Shanahan indicated his absolute conviction that in the next twenty years, the DoD will be transformed by AI. According to Shanahan, no part of the DoD will remain unaffected; “from the back office to the battlefield”.
So what is AI? It stands for Artificial Intelligence. AI has been around since computers have, and indeed perfecting AI has been a chief aim of technologists since the German Enigma Code was cracked at Bletchley Park. As quantum computing has become mainstream, an iterative shift in computational capability has increased the facility of applied AI in a military capacity.
The JAIC Is Quarterbacking AI Implementation
Presently, the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC) boasts 185 employees and a $1.3 billion budget to be used annually. So where, specifically, will software intelligence as hosted through the latest computers find direct military application? Right now, Shanahan expects these areas to be transformed:
- AI Strategy
- Policy Design
- Ethics Application
- Coalition Partnerships
- Rules Of Engagement
- User Testing And Evaluation
JAIC initiatives have a focus on things like preventative maintenance, cyber security, business process transformation, and humanitarian assistance. However, joint war operations can be feasibly assisted through such computational advances. During his interview, Shanahan lined out a two year plan to deliver such systems to “the warfighter”, as he put it.
Shanahan believes that a shift from hardware to software isn’t going to be easy; there are 60+ years of infrastructure in place that must be revitalized for such a change. While he seems convicted AI will be a core component of DoD operations, his contention is that such software solutions must become the “fabric” of the DoD’s daily activities for the transformation he envisions.
Advantages And Disadvantages Of AI Expansion Throughout The DoD
Certainly, such AI will provide a variety of advantages for military applications. However, it is strategically considerable to maintain certain legacy systems in the event of AI corruption. Cybercrime is a multi-trillion dollar industry whose financial impact on the global economy is comparable to traditional, legal technological utility.
By 2025, it’s expected cybercrime will cost the world $10.5 trillion annually. As of 2020, “white hat” economic impact of tech is $5.2 trillion. It’s definitely expected that global tech use in a “legal” sense will increase by 2025. The point? When economic technological impact on the “dark” side of things is comparable to that which is legal, it’s very important for military tech use to carefully secure operations.
Military-grade encryption is excellent, however even in America, cybercriminal interests as regard targeting varying military personnel and infrastructure is a desirable enough “commodity” that there is an associated “industry”. If such cybercriminal exploits include development and deployment of malware which hijacks AI that is the “fabric” of the DoD, that’s a serious issue.
Accordingly, full AI implementation in future years will simultaneously require security solutions to protect such implementation, and fallback infrastructure in the event of inevitable hostile takeover. This compounds associated costs on the military.
Upgrading Military Tech While Maintaining Operational Safeguards
The bottom line? AI can definitely provide some notable advantages for the military, and will very likely come to dominate the DoD in coming years. However, it’s important for military strategists to maintain fallback infrastructure simultaneously, which will complicate AI applications in terms of their total potentiality.