AI Dominance On The Battlefield

In the near future, soldiers on the battlefield may depend more on Artificial Intelligence (AI) than their own comrades and in many cases those soldiers won’t need to be on or near near the battlefield. They might instead remotely operate sophisticated, intelligent and sensor-clad weapons possessing innate problem-solving abilities. AI is already part of our lives and as the technology matures, it will play a key role in future wars.

Battle lines have become opaque and an attack can come from terrorists who easily blend in as civilians, drones that are undetectable to the eye, and it is now being suggested that we can reduce human costs through the deployment of  AI and other computational agents.

AI by itself is not a game changer, but when it's paired with humans, it can be a great tool, particularly in the future of warfare, US Defense Department experts said. The most important element in the battlefield of the future won't be rockets, bullets or robots, but data and the ability to collect it from any point and send it where it is needed in the conflict zone.

As AI power develops, the push towards systems becoming autonomous will only increase, although at present the US militariy prefer to have a human involved in the decision-making loop. 

The majority of drones currently deployed around the world would lose their core functions if the data link connecting them to their human operator were severed.

Multi-Domain Warfare

Multi-domain warfare is designed to provide the ability to attack enemy targets at a rate that the enemy cannot withstand. 
The multi-domain warfare concept shifts the combat management paradigm from one-dimensional hierarchies and patterns, in which a platform with a specific sensor is used for a specific mission, to a distributed management approach, where each platform using advanced management tools can serve several missions and users. This makes resource allocation more efficient.

Consequently, there is a need to provide supporting intelligence at a sufficient rate, resolution and precision, while properly managing the intelligence gathering resources by using a “many-to-many” approach, in which multi-sensor platforms serve multiple users.

AI, could possibly be deployed on the battlefield in multidomain operations. 'Mosaic warfare,'' a concept being developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, would link warfighter platforms, missile batteries, tanks, planes, ships and drones, through a communications network powered by AI. Layering a network with AI would enable the warfighter to better decide which asset is most effective in carrying out a specific mission. For example, if both Air Force and Navy aircraft are in an area to be targeted, AI could suggest which would be the better choice.

In a mosaic warfare ground scenario, AI might suggest sending an unmanned aerial vehicle or ground robot ahead of the main, ground battle force. That unmanned system might spot an enemy tank and pass the coordinates back, which are then relayed to a non-line-of-sight strike system in the rear that, in turn, launches its munitions and takes out the target. 

A new generation of autonomous vehicles is a high priority for military applications of AI, with much of the focus on navigation for a variety of unmanned land, sea, and air systems. Space and undersea platforms will also benefit from AI-informed guidance systems. 

AI is at the heart of the so-called drone swarms that have been the subject of much attention in recent years. AI-informed navigation software supported by ubiquitous sensors not only enables unmanned vehicles to find their way through hostile terrain, but also may eventually make it possible for complex formations of various types of drones operating in multiple domains, with complementary armaments to conduct sophisticated battle tactics. 

AI has steadily been increasing the power of simulations and gaming tools used to study nuclear and conventional weapons. 
Advances in AI-enhanced targeting and navigation also improve prospects for a wide range of tactical and strategic defense systems, especially ballistic missile defences, by empowering target acquisition, tracking, and discrimination. 

The interface between humans and machines, where the human in the loop is supposed to exert overall  control, raises critical questions about decision-making authority and organisational hierarchies. 

The rapid expansion of AI’s military applications throughout the world merits a high level of focused attention to minimise its negative impacts on strategic stability and to prevent nasty surprises. 

US Dept. of Defense:     US Army:    JSTOR / Defense University     Al Jazeera:      I-HLS   

London School of Economics:     Image: Unsplash

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