Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been omnipresent and the latest in the block is Military. In recent times, AI has become a critical part of modern warfare. Compared with the conventional systems, military establishments churning enormous volumes of data are capable to integrate AI on a more unified process. Ensuring operational efficiency, AI improves self-regulation, self-control and self-actuation of combat systems, credit to its inherent computing coupled with accurate decision-making capabilities.
Taking into account the enormous capability Artificial intelligence (AI) holds in the modern-day warfare, many of the world’s most powerful countries have increased their investments into military and self-security. Research estimates have estimated that artificial intelligence expenditure in the military market is all set to increase, and is projected to grow from $6.26 billion in 2017 to $18.82 billion by 2025.
Today, AI is deployed into almost every military application. What drives investments is the increased research and development from military research agencies to develop new and advanced applications of artificial intelligence. Highly advanced AI systems can be deployed for a number of military applications, which includes improving the capabilities of smart combat systems, handling enormous amounts of field data and, even replacing real humans on a case to case basis. Here is a synopsis, where the investments are directed with it comes to AI and Military spending by the Governments.
The United States is estimated to account for the largest share of the projected AI investments which go to the military. China closely follows the US in this aspect. The US Air Force has collaborated with IBM and DARPA (The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) for neuromorphic computer capabilities which can process massive amounts of data with a fraction of the energy that is otherwise needed by normal computer chips. Currently, the superpower is developing several “flexible AIs” to integrate both human and machine intelligence together. AI evaluates data coming from multiple sensors and combines it, before sharing this vital information with pilots on the F-35 jet fighters. This information is vital as it expands its battlefield awareness. The Pentagon has similar plans to equip ground soldiers with similar technologies which might possibly happen in the form of battle visors or glasses.
When it comes to investing in emerging technologies, China comes a close second. Late in 2017, China invested $10 billion to build a new multi-location quantum information lab that could significantly push AI advancement ahead. Quantum communications satellites have the capability to transmit unbreakable encrypted information instantly, with supercharging many neural networks. The government is investing heavily to build its military capabilities and has recently revealed the existence of a new warplane with AI-powered stealth-detecting capabilities. The country is betting high on AI to enhance its defense capabilities and aims to become the world leader in this field by 2030 beating the current leader US.
Russia is lagging behind from the two superpowers, with just a $12.5 million yearly investment that goes into military AI. Russia’s AI efforts seem to be mostly focused on deploying machine learning capabilities into electronic warfare (EW). The county has deployed countless Russian EW units to eastern Ukraine, Crimea and Syria to collect data on electronic signals in these regions. This data is used as input to machine-learning software which can pinpoint the specific signatures of western equipment, in sensors, vessels and missiles thereby improving the Russian EW defense system.
Now that you know where the superpowers stand in terms of AI investments, let’s see where AI capabilities can be utilized in Military-
1. Warfare Platforms
Defense forces across the globe are increasingly deploying AI into weapons and other defence systems which are used on airborne, land, naval and space platforms. AI-enabled automated warfare systems promise enhanced performance while requiring less maintenance.
AI-equipped systems protect networks, computers, programs, and data from any kind of unauthorized access, a grave concern in the military establishments. Military systems have an increased probability of cyber-attacks, a major national threat. AI enabled web security systems when integrated with the defense software’s, record the pattern of cyber-attacks and develop counter-attack tools to tackle them.
3. Logistics & Transportation
AI has the potential to play a crucial role in transport and military logistics. Integrating AI and military transportation can lower the transportation costs automating the mundane and regular tasks. Additionally, AI also enables military fleets to detect anomalies and quickly predict the failure percentage. The US Army has collaborated with IBM to use its Watson artificial intelligence platform to help it identify the maintenance problems in its Stryker combat vehicles.
4. Battlefield Medical Emergencies
AI can be integrated with Robotic Surgical Systems (RSS) and Robotic Ground Platforms (RGPs) in war zones to assist with evacuation activities and remote surgical support. The US, in particular, is involved in the development of RGPs and RSS for its battlefield healthcare.
Thus, in a crux, Artificial Intelligence is making its mark into the military for good and for the worst. Governments have to increasingly invest and take control of their investments in this domain. Military research agencies to develop new and advanced applications of artificial intelligence are projected to drive the increased adoption of AI-driven systems in the military sector, and this is just the beginning.