The United States enjoys a long track record of dominating conventional military operations, driven in large part by our technological superiority--the nation's ability to develop new capabilities and rapidly integrate them into military operations.
However, continued dominance is not assured. Whereas in the past the military funded most major technology breakthroughs and thus could prevent potential adversaries' access, today commercial entities lead the development of cutting-edge technology, providing rivals with the opportunity to obtain and rapidly operationalize advanced capabilities, weakening America's traditional advantages.
To protect the U.S. military's technological edge, government, industry and academia must work together to develop and operationalize artificial intelligence, the technology most likely to drive outcomes on future battlefields.
The 2018 National Defense Strategy places a strong focus on AI as an emerging technology that will change society and ultimately the character of war. It is quickly becoming a technical discriminator as both commercial and government entities seek to leverage it for competitive advantage.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the Defense Department, which sees AI as critical to future military capability. Recently, Defense Deputy Secretary Patrick M. Shanahan signed a memo establishing the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center to accelerate delivery of AI-enabled capabilities, synchronize activities and assure their department-wide impact.
Several other defense and intelligence community initiatives serve as pathfinders for the rapid development and deployment of AI. Pairing leading commercial entrepreneurs and innovators with warfighters from all services, these partnerships define the department's toughest challenges, and identify promising capabilities to tackle them. These partnerships, if successful, will offer a blueprint for collaboration.
Collaboration between government, academia and industry will determine success or failure in effectively operationalizing AI capabilities. Warfighters understand the challenges and academia and industry have the expertise to develop solutions. For instance, new weapons systems are drowning warfighters in information. They desperately need capabilities to synthesize data and package it into timely, actionable information, insights and recommendations. Data overload is easy to predict when fifth-generation fighter aircraft produce 8 terabytes of...