SMA hosted a speaker session with Lt Gen Jack Shanahan (Former Inaugural Director of the US Department of Defense Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC); Member of the Board of Advisors, Special Competitive Studies Project (SCSP)), and Dr. Dave Kilcullen (President & CEO, Cordillera Applications Group) as part of its SMA Mind-tech Nexus Speaker Series.
The advancement of technology—including artificial intelligence (AI)—is unavoidable. New technology will inevitably change how military campaigns are conducted and how individual military units engage in combat. How warfighters decide to use technology will be the strongest influencer of how warfare evolves, Lt Gen Shanahan commented. He also argued that AI will force an important reassessment of reality across society and especially the military. The pace of technology creation and adoption is also increasing, enhancing the need for more frequent wargaming.
While technological advancement will strongly influence the way war is fought, the technology itself is not deterministic. Lt Gen Shanahan emphasized that incorporating AI systems and other technology into units will decide future winners and losers; however, it is how those units decide to use technology that will decide their actual impact on society and the battlefield. Lt Gen Shanahan stated that he is equally apprehensive about fully trusting AI as he is about the influence of human bias.
Dr. Kilcullen described several wargaming scenarios that were conducted in cooperation with allies and partners, including DARPA (US), SOCOM (US), dstl (UK), Qinetiq (UK), UKSF (UK), DRDC (CA), SOCOMD (AUS), and NATO. He explained that these wargames allowed for researchers to better understand how teams will incorporate new technologies into various combat scenarios. These teams blended physical domains, such as firepower, mobility, and protection, with virtual domains, such as electricity, connectivity, and data, during multiple scenarios. Dr. Kilcullen explained that these games revealed the potential for AI to learn how a commander thinks over time and to identify where combatants are by collecting data on a unit’s actions and location. He concluded by emphasizing that AI systems must remain mostly autonomous to avoid inadvertently taking soldiers out of the battlefield to maintain the broader AI system.