Two Futures for Artificial Intelligence and U.S. National Security

The future of U.S. national security will be monumentally shaped by how machines transform and accelerate the growth of humanity. Machine learning has already resulted in cutting-edge developments such as a natural language processing model called GPT-3 that can imitate human text, deep fakes enabled by general adversarial networks, and AlphaGo, the very first computer program to beat a professional Go player. Human-machine teaming is the vanguard of the future of military and defense innovation. However, effectively leveraging this mind-boggling phenomenon—and mitigating the dangers of an adversary’s nefarious use of it—is unimaginable without public-private partnerships.

Currently, much of the debate surrounding AI public-private partnerships is characterized by tech employees refusing to directly aid in what they view as the business of war. However, the actual sentiments by tech professionals toward collaboration with DoD are more nuanced. According to a survey conducted by Georgetown University’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology, only a small minority—7 percent—of respondents expressed extremely negative feelings about working on DoD AI projects. Still, the survey found that many AI professionals associate such projects with “killer drones.” Due to DoD’s technical readiness and modernization goals, however, the government’s involvement in the commercial development of emerging technologies cannot be avoided on a broader scale. For this reason, increased awareness in the private sector regarding the defense applications of AI is crucial.

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