When President Trump approved the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to the tune of $717 billion for the next fiscal year, he also cemented a position for artificial intelligence research in the US Department of Defense (DoD).
In addition to providing funding for future AI research contracts, a portion of funds from the NDAA will go toward establishing a Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC) under the DoD to oversee about 600 active AI projects. A National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence will also be given a $10 million budget to examine how AI can be leveraged for national security.
While the military has spent decades researching artificial intelligence, the proliferation of the technology and concerns over the US maintaining its position as a leader in the AI space have led to more serious efforts for the defense industry to partner with Silicon Valley to develop AI technologies. In September, the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Information Technology released a report emphasizing a need for the US to lead the globe in AI technology—particularly where national security is concerned, where AI can be leveraged both to commit and prevent potentially dangerous cyberattacks.
But the relationship between the defense sector and Silicon Valley is not as easy and happy of a marriage as some might expect. There also is tension within major companies, such as Google and Microsoft, about developing AI technologies for military purposes.
So what is AI's future in the military?
Design News senior editor Chris Wiltz spoke with John Cosby, director of solution architects at BAE Systems, and Chris Roberts, CEO and founder of Predictive Security Systems, about how the military and law enforcement are leveraging AI technology. BAE Systems is a multinational defense company that recently received approval to compete for a DoD contract to research artificial intelligence and machine learning for various defense efforts. Predictive Security Systems is a Los Angeles-based startup that leverages AI technology from its partner, SitchAI, to use machine learning and AI to prevent school shootings and student suicides.
Roberts and Cosby discuss how AI is impacting the government and consumer space differently, the current state of military AI, and the ethical implications of applying AI to national defense.