Cognitive Defense of the Joint Force in a Digitizing World

July 2021 No Comments

Author(s): Wright, N. (Georgetown University, University College London (UCL), Intelligent Biology and New America)

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How can we defend the humans in the Joint Force—and its key support networks—from adversarial information operations in our digitizing world? Service personnel, their families and friends are human. Adversaries and other destabilizing forces threaten to sow disruption amongst these millions of humans, in order to degrade collective capabilities. “Deepfakes” illustrate how such threats’ character may evolve as part of “combined arms” information operations alongside other dual-use Artificial Intelligence (AI) tech. Success for the Joint Force is to react effectively, but within the democratic constraints of a free society.

Part I of this report delineates the challenge for the Joint Force in our digitizing world. Part II describes a practical, effective response through a strategy centered on “3 Ds.” (1) DETECT: Build capabilities to detect and characterize influence operations against the Joint Force – who is targeted, by what means and for what purposes? (2) DEFEND: Human cognition always contains vulnerabilities, which can be minimized and so denied to others. Mass personalization of influence operations is coming; countering it requires new human-AI teams and organization. (3) DEMOCRATIC COMPATIBILITY: Make new capabilities compatible with a free society, whilst also mitigating the gaps this entails – a challenge that speaks directly to the Interim National Security Strategic Guidance (Biden, 2021). Restraint is not just a bug of the U.S. system, it is a strength.

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