The U.S. Senate last week confirmed Mark Esper to serve as the next Secretary of Defense. During his confirmation hearing, Esper identified artificial intelligence (AI) as a “game changer” and the Pentagon's most important technology. “I think artificial intelligence will likely change the character of warfare,” Esper testified, “and I believe whoever masters it first will dominate on the battlefield for many, many, many years.” The American defense establishment has awakened to this new era of AI-enabled warfare — but has much work to do and no time to waste.
It is not difficult to imagine how these AI capabilities will transform the future battlefield. The Pentagon predicts that AI will “impact every corner of the Department.” Future wars will be won or lost based on a military force's ability to analyze and act on enormous quantities of information faster than the enemy. AI makes that possible.