Pentagon warns US Defense must embrace artificial intelligence

The Defense Science Board’s Study on Autonomy has been released, confirming that effective use of artificial intelligence will likely be a deciding factor in military success – and the US is lagging behind.

According to the study, “Autonomy will deliver substantial operational value – in multiple dimensions – across an increasingly broad spectrum of DoD (Department of Defense) missions, but the DoD must move more rapidly to realize this value. Allies and adversaries alike also have access to increasingly rapid technological advances occurring globally.”

It was suggested that the Pentagon take “immediate action” to determine how to defeat the AI-enabled operations other countries are starting to employ.

The study reflected on the nation’s past mistakes in cyber and electronic warfare. Namely, the fact that the Pentagon put all of its effort into developing offensive weapons and techniques to use against adversaries, forgetting to address US equipment’s own vulnerabilities.

“For years, it has been clear that certain countries could, and most likely would, develop the technology and expertise to use cyber and electronic warfare against US forces,” said the study.

“Yet most of the US effort focused on developing offensive cyber capabilities without commensurate attention to hardening US systems against attacks from others. Unfortunately, in both domains, that neglect has resulted in DoD spending large sums of money today to ‘patch’ systems against potential attacks.”

The study suggested that if the US does not learn from this lesson, the cycle could repeat itself with artificial intelligence technology.

Overall, the study recommended that the Pentagon employ research into how its adversaries already are and will in future, use artificial intelligence in warfare. It also recommended the assembly of a community of researchers to “not only explore new uses for autonomy, counter-autonomy and countering potential adversary autonomy, but also more realistically inform what the tactical advantages and vulnerabilities would be to both the US and adversaries in adopting or adapting commercially available technology”.

Meanwhile, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is working on the development of sensors and artificial intelligence systems that could help break into, extract and analyse information from enemy devices and communications systems, according to CIO Australia. Specifically, DARPA is determining ways to tap into wired or wireless networks or devices to monitor communications or steal security keys. The agency is currently seeking research proposals to develop sensors with the ability to parse and extract only the relevant information from nearby or remote locations, among other things.