Technology for Global Security is launching a joint initiative with the Center for Global Security and Research at the renowned Lawrence Livermore National Labs to understand and manage the long-term opportunities and risks posed by artificial intelligence-related technologies to international security and warfare. For most of human history, the army with the largest size had the distinct advantage on the battlefield. In WWI, Frederick Lanchester even devised a famous mathematical formula showing that the advantage a larger military force has is the difference of the squares of the two opposing armies. However, the United States has been the preeminent military power since WWII, not because of the size of its armies, but through the development and use of superior technology.
The paradigm shifts underpinning decades of U.S. technological advantage are known as “offsets” in the military strategy community, and are quintessentially American. The first way that the U.S. leveraged superior technology to “offset” greater Soviet forces was through the atomic bomb. Later, once the Soviet Union achieved nuclear superiority, the U.S. Department of Defense devised a second offset consisting of stealth technology, precision-guided munitions, networked operations, and spaced-based communications (a principal architect of the second offset was Dr. William Perry, who is an advisor to Tech4GS). Again today, strategic adversaries are achieving parity with the United States in military technology, and accordingly, America must consider the application of new, game-changing advances. This is important not just for the United States, but also globally as American preeminence has underwritten international security - but also rules, norms and respect for basic human rights and dignity - for over 50 years. Power abhors a vacuum and, during this time of global political upheaval, more autocratic governments could - and will likely - step in to reshape global consensus in their image.
To that end, countries around the world are studying advancements in machine or artificial intelligence (AI) as the fundamental driver behind the next generation of warfare and international strategic stability. The U.S. Defense Department is looking at AI-related technologies, in fact, to underpin their overall “third offset” strategy. As with many other aspects of society, advances in AI-related technologies have the potential to significantly disrupt the nature of human-machine interaction and warfare. Just as industrial-era technologies augmented and in many ways replaced human physical labor, AI will enhance - or even replace - human cognitive efforts. The potential international security policy implications of AI include: decreased trust in the strategic assumptions and the technologies that underpin decision-making in a crisis; disruptions in the security dilemma as a result of AI-enabled tactical and strategic shifts in the prevention and conduct of warfare; and AI-enabled disruptions to long-term strategic planning and budgeting for maintaining strategic stability between major powers.
At this stage, the national security and technology communities lack a clear, consensus understanding of the near- and long-term opportunities and risks of AI, and therefore lack a clear, consensus understanding of the means to mitigate potentially destabilizing advances at the policy, legislative, and technological level. It is through our work with CGSR that we hope to begin a years-long process of building a repository of the information and insight necessary to fill this gap. For those interested in joining this discussion, or if you have questions, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org - we look forward to hearing from you and collaborating on the path forward.