Artificial Intelligence and it’s use in the Armed Forces
Artificial Intelligence is now a significant part of life as we know it. We currently reside in a digital world where AI is at the core of the exciting new technology that is being created on a regular basis. The capabilities of technologically advanced systems and equipment have risen at an astounding rate. With conventional methods in use with both online and offline today, global companies are capable of handling large volumes of data much more efficiently and faster. But these global companies are not the only organizational structures that are experiencing growth through artificial intelligence.
The Military is the main forerunners that are using this advanced technology and benefiting from Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems with top of the range military grade hardware, software and machines at their disposal. AI in the military helps to improve self-actuation, self-control, and self-regulation of the combat systems in use. Which is due to AI’s inherent computing and decision-making capabilities that are also continually bringing the military more opportunities for advancement.
The increasing wave of AI systems in the military is now being distributed in almost every application that the military administers. This wave is aided via development funding from certain military research agencies. The agencies funding is put to use by developing applications that are more advanced than any known AI-driven systems of the past in the military sector of artificial intelligence for research purposes and Home front safety efforts. The Defense Advanced Research Project’s Agency (DARPA) which is an initiative of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) have recently financed the development of a robotic submarine system that is expected to be employed in the applications concerning both the detection of underwater mines and the engagement of secret sub machine missions to protect their homeland against any military action.
The U.S. Department of Defense spent more than 7 billion US on artificial intelligence, big data warehousing, and cloud services in 2017. The market size concerning AI in the military is expected to reach an estimated value of more than 18 billion US by the year 2025. That is a considerable jump from the 7 billion US in 2017. This rise in AI application is only set to continue as we move forward into the future of advanced technology and important hardware and software upgrades that will ensure military advancement and cement country safety in this digitized era.
The main military applications that are in use today include:
WAR PLATFORMS – military defense forces from around the world are now embedding AI initiatives and applications in advanced warfare weapons and other important systems that are used on land and by sea and air. Including airborne, naval, and certain space initiatives. Efficiency in warfare systems is the aim of these applications and finding ways to become less-reliant on human management and maintenance. The AI involved is also expected to empower autonomous and rapid-speed weapons in what is officially known as collaborative warfare attacks.
AI TRANSPORT AND LOGISTICS – military logistics and transportation are crucial ingredients of a successful military force. Transporting goods including armaments and ammunition efficiently is of high concern. Whilst transportation of troops to war zones and/or training facilities are also essential for military competence. Plus the fact that AI in logistical processes and transportation will seriously reduce the cost of these procedures and reduce operational efforts from employees.
AI CYBER-SECURITY – even the military’s systems can be vulnerable to certain sophisticated cyber attacks. Protection against it is of the utmost importance to protect military systems and information. Artificial intelligence can protect these systems automatically and autonomously by applying strategies to protect all data, programs and networks in use by the military. AI is making it easier to identify certain cyber attacks and combat them by creating counter-attack autonomous tools to safeguard unauthorized access in the future.
AI HEALTHCARE IN WAR-ZONES – AI integration in war zones can provide surgical support systems and procedures concerning evacuations of the battlefield. Robotic Surgical Systems and Ground Platforms are involved in this area, and healthcare systems of this nature will be of great benefit to the military and their troops. Including processing soldiers medical records and assisting in war-zone diagnosis’s that could potentially save lives.
AI TARGET RECOGNITION – in the case of target recognition, AI implementation can seriously enhance target accuracy in combat zones. It will also help to promote an in-depth understanding of operational procedures and area analysis. Identifying tactical processes by the enemy and locating their position on the battlefield. This type of AI and machine learning concept will create data involving the tracking and the discovery of important targets.
AI COMBAT TRAINING AND SIMULATION SYSTEMS – AI will benefit military training and increase troops awareness in war-zones by training them using simulators that provide up-to-date professional software strategies in combat and computer science features that train troops in various tactical combat maneuvers, etc. Military operations can now be deployed by simulation. The U.S. is considering increasing its investment in the AI simulated training applications for troops.
AI DATA INFORMATION AND PROCESSING – involving AI in this area is of obvious benefit to the military. The capabilities of data collection and processing by artificial intelligence methods are first class. Data can be processed in large volumes and in faster capacities, while AI can produce valuable information, faster, quicker and more efficiently to the military from that data it collects, optimizes, processes, calculates and manages.
AI WAR-ZONE AWARENESS AND MONITORING OF MILITARY THREATS – AI can produce significant results for the military in this field. Surveillance, Operational intelligence, and reconnaissance procedures by AI can increase the process of requiring information from the enemy whilst supporting multiple ranges of other activities used by the military to get ahead of the enemy in threatful situations. Unmanned AI systems can be effectively used in remote operations. The use of Drones is a particular AI application that is skyrocketing situational awareness in war-zones with the potential to identify any threat and strike against it at pinpoint precision. The Advanced technology currently being used in this field by the military is highly accurate and effective in battlefield situations, and in the protection of military bases at home and abroad.
The military has certainly incorporated AI into many aspects of the armed forces. These AI applications are so efficient they are able to undertake and complete military tasks and important warfare missions on behalf of the government. Artificial intelligence and machine learning can be superior to human interaction by having better skills and automated intelligence. But in the case of uncertainty in certain warzone situations, humans are far superior to AI in quickly realizing the possible outcome of any given battle situation, especially those situations concerning human life. For that reason, AI in the military is a complex issue that does have its concerns, but if all measures of AI integration is measured and controlled, then it is sure to be an ever-growing commercial market.
The introduction of autonomous weapons and systems must be given full consideration from the powers that be. But the thought of banning such AI technology would not be practical and would certainly have a negative effect on the military’s warfare capabilities. The saying also goes, if it’s not us, it’s them that will have it. Therefore the future of warfare is sure to be linked to AI applications and systems developments to help ensure the U.S. Military can withstand any attack on their homeland, and assure future advancement with the rest of world in AI warfare technology. With the rapid development of autonomous AI systems, it is quickly becoming the norm for AI integration and implementation in the military forces.
However, all applications are directly associated with the capability of military software and application engineers who are currently designing the new autonomous systems. Their new technology must hold the capacity for independent intelligence, including reasoning and knowledge gathering capabilities for AI to truly become an important part of the armed forces. Whilst current applications and systems in use are more automatic than autonomous, there has been a significant jump in the research and development departments of the military to make autonomous applications and systems progress in the ground, air, on-water, and underwater AI sectors.
In the U.S. and in Europe there are now numerous types of autonomous vehicles including helicopters and submarines that can easily be directed by human interaction. China has become strongly involved with the development of autonomous vehicles for warfare and is quickly matching the progress of the U.S. and Europe in autonomous AI development and deployment of unmanned vehicles, and weaponry. The leadership of China is currently advancing towards a fully driven innovation strategy for military AI development and is expected to have a massive impact on warfare in the near future.
Research groups and analysts have stated that China is expected to be the world leader in the field of artificial intelligence by the year 2030.
There is hardly any doubt that Artificial Intelligence is going to be a very large directive in the future for militaries around the globe. Within the U.S. Military technology programs that include the application of artificial intelligence in electronic warfare will help the armed forces to counteract any attempt by the enemy who may be trying to interfere with GPS and other communications including interference of satellite signals, etc. It will also help the military to identify friendly and/or hostile signals by recognizing the electronic input and complexity behind enemy coding from their capable AI autonomous applications. In the Army, electronic warfare units can currently deploy a large number of armored vehicles that have AI antennas which can scan the war zone area and search for friendly and hostile radio-frequency signals.
AI implementation in the military has unique benefits that can change the character and concepts of warfare, including:
AI enabled data analysis, intelligence analysis, and the collection/processing of Data Autonomous and highly intelligent unmanned systems, including vehicles and craft defense/offense information command warfare collaborations war-gaming, including training by AI simulation support to command intelligence with decision-making capabilities.
AI concepts like Mother-ships carrying hundreds of smaller drones and releasing them from the air above ground or even below sea level is currently an effective concept that has been tested with satisfactory results, expecting these kinds of AI initiatives to be developed, upgraded, and deployed on a regular basis within military missions. Soldiers of the future may be able to wear combat gear that is fully-loaded with weaponry and/or combat apps that can get the job done by firing on the enemy without infantry contact and potential risk of life to the soldiers at war. The military has had AI application that can call on fighter jets to make targeted airstrikes for decades, but the recent technologically advanced discoveries are expected to expand the military’s capabilities ten-fold. As well, the long-term vision of the military concerning AI’s role in combat warfare will be sustained due to more research, development, and innovation. By optimizing and managing AI with specific capabilities on the battlefield, it would be of great benefit to the military and the country in general.
Artificial intelligence is accelerating the tactical and combat skills of the military now more than ever before. When the developers of AI introduce new products that are capable of being beneficial to the armed forces it has the potential to theoretically alternate the process of war and how it is fought on many different fronts. AI integration is more advantageous than the past methods of war, and with space-based nuclear weapons being introduced at a rapid rate to the countries in power who can afford this new technology, deploying them will not be an issue if the need arises. The use of AI robots in warfare is currently being researched as a future fighter technique on the battlefield. Numerous military robots with automated weaponry have been developed and introduced to various armed forces departments.
But the most prominent AI system in use is the strategy of using unmanned aerial vehicles that can be additionally armed with rapid-fire air-to-ground missiles. These crafts can be manned on the ground by a command center, and/or even by a soldier using a smartphone. However military weaponry does still need to be controlled by human input, as stated above. This is certainly the case where certain intervention locations and restricted fire zones are involved as defined by the Geneva Conventions for the Laws of War.
The use of automated and autonomous fighter jets and additional bombers to help locate and destroy important enemy targets is looking very promising for the close future, because it is easier to train robotic pilots and automated jets and/or drones, etc, than it is to train humans. These AI crafts for the military can subsequently perform magnificent maneuvers that man cannot due to high G-force.
The main advantage of automated and autonomous robotics in the military is that it can save many soldiers lives by removing the need for man-to-man combat in battle. The majority of military robots today are not equipped with weaponry, they are tactical robots that are mainly used for neutralizing explosive devices, reconnaissance, surveillance, and detection of snipers in the field. But it is highly likely that the introduction of complete and competent fighter robots will begin to enhance the capability of winning wars without extreme loss of life. AI has the ability and the agility to truly change the game by its improvements in accuracy and speed of everything from tactical battlefield maneuvers to the logistics and transportation of military troops into war zones. The possibilities in strategic planning and wartime superiority from artificial intelligence are limitless. That is why it is driving militaries from around the globe to accelerate their efforts in AI development.
A 2017 study presented results that, an operating environment in the near future, described AI as the most disruptive technology of our time.
However, there has been a significant growth recently in political and military discussions about the possible consequences to national security from AI integration and implementation. Many concerns have also been recently raised about the risk to humanity, if AI was to go haywire, could there be a World War III? Individuals in governmental power have stated that leadership in artificial intelligence in war zones will be necessary for global military power in the 21st century. AI is now considered more than just a weapon.
It is an enabler, and the effect it may have on military power and/or international conflict will depend on AI applications strategies, and research and development that will offer sustained military superiority to the forerunner in military-grade artificial intelligence. We know through the world economy that AI can process and manage data at a rapid rate, and the same is true for the military. Project Maven in the U.S. armed forces is currently using algorithms to interpret imagery which has been taken on drone missions that include international surveillance feeds. But it is planned for AI to provide a lot more than simple image recognition capability. Clearly, the military has incentives for more research and development of AI applications as it will help them to be efficient and effective in times of war. Automatic and autonomous systems offer the potential for achieving tasks and military goals faster whilst lower the risk human life, and lowering costs associated with wartime efforts.
AI applications and systems could generate complexities on the battlefield but it is highly likely they will still be a major part of future warfare. If developers can figure out the decision-making processes and complicated planning concepts concerned with AI implementation, it will certainly improve the reliability, and receive the trust of commanders who operate these applications both in simulated training and at war. However the challenges concerning programming an AI application for every contingency can decrease the reliability and trust because without full control of the AI on the battleground, major incidents may occur. If full control can be implemented and retained, it will certainly maximize the probability of wartime victory.
The potential promise from AI capabilities, despite recent concerns in reliability and trust, will help militaries operate faster, and to complete objectives or missions much more accurately. Machine learning is very effective in today’s society, and it can be for the armed forces too. But the impact of AI integration will definitely depend on how the military use it to their advantage. If they can train AI hardware and software to learn and operate independently in a military context, then the possibilities of wartime domination may be the result. The clear advantage that is now seen with AI is that it has the ability to learn, process and evolve in ways that other software applications cannot.
Deep learning methods are now enabled with some AI applications and systems, and the more research put into this area of growth will likely increase the chances of future development in the perfect AI armed soldier. Replacing the frozen software systems that are mainly used in the military will eventually be removed and/or obsolete. Developers will invent more nimble systems with a broad agility that will increase computer vision. Identifying targets as well as non-combatants is the ultimate aim of AI military integration.
Preserving life in and around the battlefield must be on the military’s mind to make AI application effective, reliable and trustworthy. The data is the critical factor in that process, and AI at war must learn the critical data by fully understanding its orders and current objectives. The military, like other large organizations, must quickly adapt to this new technologically advanced, and mainly digitalized era, by successfully building and sustaining an intellectual edge with AI, and maintain control over it. The success in future warfare may depend on this. It may need to be maintained by collaborative efforts between man and machine, and AI integration in the military will then surely provide efficiency in planning and executing military operations.
The United States and China have expressed and released their long-term strategies to eventually lead the world in the research, development, and deployment of artificial intelligence in the armed services. The main reason for the effort is to meet military demands in the convergence of mass quantities of data and communication networks including military sensors and national security information and protection. Machine learning and AI systems offer the military advanced filtering of data and associated information whilst having the capability to explore further options due to deep analysis techniques used by autonomous databases.
This kind of military analysis efficiency can provide faster, more reliable, and better decision-making within complex operational and/or strategical armed environments. Broader literacy about AI applications and its important tactical concepts is being created amongst military personnel to teach them how to explore and conquer the objective of AI’s new war zone and war fighting potential. This teaching is likely to create efficient soldiers with AI war game experience that have the capability to obliterate the enemy and do it from distance, therefore reducing human casualties of war.
For correct use in war zone environments, it will surely be a process of human involvement with the need for trained and experienced users that are highly informed about being at the core of all AI system controls and AI military missions. The user must be able to provide the armed forces with quality assurance that the application of AI in the war zone will be used in an ethical, and humane way. Technical experts in the AI field will obviously be the call of the day for efforts to be extremely effective and efficient. Human intelligence may always need to be at the controls of AI applications in the war zone to assure quality control and provide that level of assurance to preserve life. Only then will the military be able to fully exploit the benefits of automatic and autonomous artificial intelligence because for it to be truly exploited it will need to be by human leadership.
For military training purposes, AI can help trainees by collaborative learning processes including strategical skill sets, and operational planning. AI can offer authentic war zone environments via simulation as we have already covered, and it can also offer more intelligent and automated adversary systems that will challenge trainees by using exceptional algorithms and military curriculum data to help students excel in armed activities. AI simulators can provide a higher level of cognitive skill to the user, by authenticated simulation. AI military integration may help to identify gaps in the learning process of trainees studying combat curriculum and ensure that they are properly trained and intellectually fit for conflict. This will help to build the foundation for a more advanced soldier in a more technologically advanced military. The military’s command, control, and its soldiers will become highly educated in leveraging the potential of AI applications in war zones, which will create that intellectual edge over all adversaries.
AI has multiplied the capabilities of e-commerce, and it is highly likely in the near future to proliferate the capability of the military. It certainly has the potential to influence and/or even change society as we know it. The influence it can have in the armed forces will depend on the speed of innovation, integration, and implementation of applications. But with the technological advances in AI expected to rise, the military’s future may very well rely on artificial intelligence.
Peter Jonathan Wilcheck – November 2018
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