Military: How artificial intelligence is changing war


Military : How artificial intelligence is changing war

Self-learning algorithms can change weapon systems and thus the global power structure. But there is a dilemma in technology.

By Paul-Anton Kr├╝ger

on March 9th 1949 Claude E. Shannon presented a paper for programming a computer to play chess at the annual meeting of the Institute of Radio Engineers in New York. Although this may not have any practical significance, the question is of theoretical interest and can help to solve similar problems of greater importance, wrote Shannon, who became known as the “father of the information age”. He still spoke of “mechanized thinking”, which could help to develop machines “to make strategic decisions in simplified military operations”.

Computers are used today for the planning and execution of military operations, for the analysis of reconnaissance data like the weapon calculator of a tank. Shannon's prognosis turned out to be too optimistic: strategic and tactical decisions in the military are still largely made by people Intelligence is considered the fourth industrial revolution

Confused by the then Google boss Eric Schmidt 2016 When visiting the U.S. Air Force Operations Center at al-Udeid base in Qatar, soldiers found that airlifting dozens of fighter jets by hand with markers, magnets, and were planning colored plastic cards on a whiteboard. The high-tech armed forces of the United States are also far from being able to use the new opportunities offered by rapidly growing computing power or machine learning in a comprehensive, systematic manner.

Artificial Intelligence (AI), as mechanized thinking has been called since 1955, is now considered the fourth Industrial revolution. It fundamentally changes many economic and life areas. The military balance of power and the geopolitical constellation will not leave it untouched.

China announced in July 2017 a state-owned artificial intelligence development plan for a new generation, which states that “leading industrialized countries see the development of artificial intelligence as an important strategy for increasing national competitiveness and to protect national security “. Beijing aims to achieve global leadership in the development of artificial intelligence by 2030.

The USA could have lost its lead in a few years

Russian President Vladimir Putin said in September 2017 to students: “Artificial intelligence is the future, not only for Russia, but for all of humanity. ” It harbors colossal opportunities, but also threats that are difficult to predict. However, he prophesied one thing: “Whoever leads in the sphere of artificial intelligence will be the ruler of the world.”

It is still the USA – but the chorus of warners is growing louder, fearing that the still most powerful country in the world could lose its lead in a few years. Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis wrote a fire letter to President Donald Trump in May 2018 calling for a national AI strategy. He enclosed an article by Henry Kissinger that concluded, “If we don't start this effort soon, we will soon find that we started too late.” Developments in artificial intelligence “could not be viewed in isolation from the emerging strategic competition with China and the broader geopolitical landscape,” warned a US government commission. There is often talk of a new arms race between the USA and China.

However, artificial intelligence is not a weapon system like a rocket and also not limited to military use, such as stealth technology. Rather, it is a enabling technology like the combustion engine for a wide range Spectrum of civil and military applications – but one that can lead to serious changes in military capabilities and thus to shifts in the balance of power. The public debate focuses on autonomous weapon systems, which critics call “killer robots”. However, much more is conceivable – from the manipulation of public opinion to the determination of maintenance intervals for weapons to image recognition by sensors or the coordination of drone swarms.

In the Gulf War 1990 it was shown that an advance in information on the battlefield is at least as valuable as superior firepower and numerical superiority. Computers and electronic sensors allowed the US military to destroy Saddam Hussein's army with more than 4500 tanks within weeks. A few years later, the US military developed the doctrine of network-centered warfare that focused on information superiority.