AI-powered systems are taking the world by storm, from data collection to hybrid warfare, autonomous vehicles to drones, surveillance and cybersecurity.
Artificial intelligence has the potential to revolutionise the way governments and militaries work. With AI becoming increasingly sophisticated, vast amounts of data can be processed and learned in real-time. As a result, AI has become an attractive tool for national security operations.
AI’s rapid advancement has a number of implications. These include threats, challenges, and opportunities. The United States and China are investing heavily in AI-powered technologies to maintain their military superiority. The potential of AI in the national security sector has captured the attention of policymakers and defence analysts. Advances in AI have already had a significant impact on hybrid warfare.
Over 50 countries have released their National AI strategies to maximise the potential benefits of this technology while tackling the challenges and risks associated with its fair use and governance. As The National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (NSCAI) acknowledges, AI “will be a source of enormous power for companies and countries that harness it”.
As part of China’s national-level AI development plan launched in 2017, the country aims to become a global leader in AI by 2030. The plan includes significant investments in research and development and the creation of an ecosystem that supports the growth of AI industries in China. This plan represents a significant opportunity for China, but es security concerns.
European Commission and U.S. administration signed a virtual agreement on artificial intelligence for the public good in January 2023 in order to remain competitive with China’s rapidly advancing AI technology. The agreement was signed by the EU-US Trade and Technology Council (TTC), which was developed in 2021 to facilitate transatlantic cooperation across a variety of priority areas, including emerging technologies.
Artificial Intelligence was identified as one of the most advanced areas for cooperation during the latest TTC high-level meeting last year. The two blocs adopted a joint roadmap to achieve a common approach to critical aspects of this emerging technology, including defining metrics for measuring trustworthiness and implementing risk management strategies.
Various domains, including information, economics, and military operations, are being transformed by AI. The use of artificial intelligence in information operations has significantly improved data collection, advanced satellite imagery analysis, social media monitoring, and data creation capabilities. Cybersecurity, image classification, geospatial data analysis, audio and video analysis, detecting forgeries, and identifying deep fakes are all performed using AI-powered systems. It can also be used to control autonomous vehicles, such as drones and other unmanned systems, which can perform tasks in dangerous environments or situations where humans cannot intervene.
AI is based on the principle that humans should always remain in control of machines. Despite AI’s potential to enhance decision-making, it shouldn’t be allowed to make life-and-death decisions on its own.
AI must be controlled by humans in order to be used ethically and responsibly. AI systems are only as good as the data they are trained on and the algorithms they use. It is therefore the responsibility of humans to ensure that the data and algorithms used to train AI systems are unbiased and free from potential harm.
National security is being changed by the increased use of artificial intelligence in the defense sector, enabling countries to improve their military capabilities and maintain their power position. AI advancements create new risks, but they also provide nations with new defensive tools. As AI continues to evolve, policymakers and defense analysts must remain aware of the new challenges and opportunities it brings.