WASHINGTON – Since the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, began shaping the so-called “first wave” of artificial intelligence in the 1960s, the United States has been the world leader in adoption of AI.
Over the next five decades, AI has evolved from machines running human-programmed rules to statistical learning, the second wave, and now to a third wave that produces machines that understand and reason in context. .
In future battlefields, machines will function more like colleagues than tools, says DARPA.
“But obviously we’re not the only ones who understand the promise of AI,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Tuesday in a speech at an international conference hosted by the National Security Commission on artificial intelligence. “China’s leaders have made it clear that they intend to be world dominant in AI by 2030,” he noted.
To win the AI arms race with China, the United States will spend nearly $ 1.5 billion on artificial intelligence research and development over the next five years, Austin said.
Beijing is already talking about using AI for a range of missions, from surveillance to cyber attacks to autonomous weapons. And in the field of AI, as in many others, we understand that China is our pace challenge, ”said Austin. “And we’re going to fight to win, but we’re going to do it the right way.”
Austin said the effort will involve not only major U.S. defense contractors, but universities and small businesses as well.
The secretary signed in May a new strategy document for the joint command and control of all areas, or JADC2. The idea is to connect observation and reconnaissance data from all branches of the military into a single network. AI and other technologies will be used to develop an optimal plan, reducing the time it takes to move from scanning the environment to action.
The new strategy reflects the Pentagon’s distance from the war on terror.
In terms of strength and technology, the United States was far superior to the extremist groups it fought in the Middle East and was able to mobilize its forces and act at its own pace. But Beijing is catching up with Washington in land, sea, air, space and cybernetics, and, according to some observers, even overtakes US power in China’s backyard in the western Pacific.
With the two sides now more balanced, the speed at which they can gather and analyze intelligence and put their strategies into action will be critical.
The Pentagon is seeking to work with more than 30 countries to implement the JADC2 framework, according to a senior official. If a conflict does break out, integrating data from friendly nations would improve intelligence accuracy.
In his speech, Austin stressed that the use of AI must be “responsible, fair, traceable, reliable and governable.”
Critics have expressed concern about the potential of autonomous “killer robots” capable of launching attacks without human intervention. There has been little discussion of international regulations surrounding the use of AI in warfare, and reports suggest autonomous weapons may have been used in the civil war in Libya.
At the conference, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the State Department will present a strategy for effectively using data in foreign policy in the coming weeks. The data could “help the department predict maybe the next civil conflict, the next famine, the next economic crisis, and how we can respond more effectively,” he said.
US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan noted the recent establishment of an Emerging Technologies Task Force by the security group known as Quad – US, Japan, India and Australia. The four partners will work more closely together in areas such as fifth generation wireless and supply chain issues, he said.