Strategic Robotpower: Artificial Intelligence and National Security

  • October 23, 2017
  • COL Patrick Sullivan

Artificial intelligence (AI) is on a developmental trajectory to be the central force in future society. There will be many benefits from this, but serious challenges as well, particularly for the national security setting. AI’s development virtually guarantees that lethal autonomous weapons will someday be unleashed on the battlefield. Although these weapons could conceivably lower the human cost of war, they carry significant proliferation and collateral damage risk as well, and could make the decision to go to war easier. This would be inherently destabilizing to the Westphalian geopolitical order, which is already under strain due to AI’s democratization of information. As the dominant artificial intelligence company, Google is best positioned to benefit from any decentralization and rebalancing of state power that occurs from AI-related disruption, with Silicon Valley as a whole becoming a political entity unto itself. Whatever the resultant decentralized/rebalanced power construct looks like, all stakeholders – transnational technology companies, nation-states, and what remains of the international system – will have a responsibility to provide collective good governance to ensure that AI’s outcomes stay as positive as possible, especially as relates to privacy concerns, job displacement, and increased socio-economic inequality