Artificial Intelligence and National Security

Table of Contents

Article Details:

Executive Summary

  • AI research has demonstrated much more progress than anticipated over the past 5 years
    • Most of this progress has been due to machine learning
    • Experts anticipate that this progress will continue, or even accelerate
  • Most AI research advances are occurring in academia or the private sector
    • Private sector funding for AI research dwarfs the US government's spending
  • Existing capabilities in AI have significant potential for national security
  • Future AI progress has the potential to be a transformative national security technology, on par with nuclear weapons, aircraft, computers and biotech
  • Advances in AI will affect national security by driving change in: military superiority, information superiority and economic superiority
    • Military superiority: AI will create new capabilities and make existing capabilities more affordable
      • Commercially available AI technology may give weak states and non-state actors access to long-range precision strike capabilities
      • Activities that currently require lots of high-skill labor (such as Advanced Persistent Threat operations) may be automated, packaged and sold on the black market
    • Information superiority: AI will enhance the collection, analysis and creation of data
      • More sources from which to determine truth
      • Easier to craft persuasive lies
      • AI enhanced forgeries will erode the basis of trust of many institutions
    • Economic superiority: AI could drive a new industrial revolution
      • Dramatic decline in demand for labor – might lead to up to a "third of all men between the ages of 25 and 54 being unemployed"
      • This will reshape the relationship between labor and capital
      • Growing automation could create a "resource curse" scenario for developed countries
      • Population size will become less important for national power – small countries with highly developed AI infrastructure will punch far above their weight
  • "Lessons learned" from four prior transformative military technologies: nuclear, aerospace, cyber, biotech
    • Radical technological change begets radical government policy ideas
      • National security implications of AI will be "revolutionary", not "different"
        • What's the difference between "different" and "revolutionary"?
      • Governments will consider and implement radical policy measures, perhaps as radical as in the early days of nuclear weapons
        • What radical policy measures did governments adopt in the early days of nuclear weapons?
    • Arms races are unavoidable, but they can be managed
      • In 1899 nations voluntarily agreed to a treaty banning the use of weaponized aircraft
      • This treaty was quickly abandoned in World War 1, as the advantages of aerial bombardment proved irresistible
      • The report's authors predict something similar for artificial intelligence – whatever treaties or agreements we have restricting or banning the use of AI in warfare will be quickly abandoned if and when an actual war breaks out
      • Instead, we should pursue goals of keeping AI "safe"
    • Government must both promote and restrain commercial activity
      • Government must recognize the inherent dual-use nature of technology
        • British government sold the Soviet Union 45 copies of the Rolls Royce 'Nene' jet engine
        • Soviet Union reverse engineered this engine and turned it into the Klimov VK-1 which powered the MiG-15
      • The US has a huge advantage in private sector and academic AI research
      • However, the relationship between private sector, academia and the government is fraught with tension
    • Governments must formalize goals for technology safety and provide adequate resources
      • In all cases studied, safety outcomes improved when governments created formal organizations tasked with improving the safety of their technology domains
      • Organizations must have the necessary resources (human resources, money, time and political capital)
      • US should stand up a formal organization tasked with investigating and promoting AI safety across the entire government and commercial AI portfolio
    • As technology changes, so does the US's national interest
      • Declining cost and complexity of bioweapons led US to change its strategy from aggressive development to voluntary restraint
      • US has a strategic interest in shaping the cost, complexity and offense/defense balance of national security technologies
      • As with stealth aircraft, targeted investments can allow the US to affect the offense/defense balance and build a long-lasting technological edge
  • 3 goals and 11 recommendations for US national security policy with regards to AI
    • Goal: Preserve US technological leadership
      • DoD should conduct AI-focused war games in order to identify potential disruptive military innovations
      • DoD should fund long-term strategic analyses of AI technology
      • Prioritize AI R&D spending in areas that can provide sustainable advantages and mitigate key risks
      • Invest heavily in "counter-AI" capabilities for both offense and defense
    • Goal: Support peaceful use of technology
      • DARPA, IARPA, et. al. should be given increased funding for AI related basic research
      • Department of Defense should release a request for information on dual-use AI technologies
      • In-Q-Tel should be given additional resources to promote collaboration between the national security community and the commercial AI industry
    • Goal: Manage catastrophic risks
      • The National Security Council, the Defense Department and the State Department should study what AI applications the US should seek to restrict with treaties
      • The Defense Department and the Intelligence Community should establish dedicated AI safety organizations
      • DARPA should fund research on fail-safe and safety-for-performance technology for AI systems
      • NIST and the NSA should explore options for countering AI-enabled forgery

Introduction and Project Approach

  • Over the past 5 years, researchers have achieved key milestones in AI technology significantly more quickly than expert projections
    • AlphaGo beat a human Go champion 10 years before AI was predicted to be able to do so
    • AI is starting to beat professional poker players
    • Reliable voice recognition
    • Image recognition superior to human performance
    • Defeating a former US Air Force pilot in an air-combat simulator
  • Four key drivers between the exponential growth of AI technologies
    1. Decades of exponential growth in computing performance
    2. Increased availability of large data sets upon which to train large machine learning systems
    3. Advances in the implementation of machine learning techniques
    4. Significant and rapidly increasing commercial investment

Author: Rohit Patnaik

Created: 2019-01-22 Tue 22:22