Artificial intelligence (AI) — defined by John McCarthy, one of the doyens of AI, as “the science and engineering of making intelligent machines” — is slowly gaining relevance in the military domain. While commercial use of AI is widening, there are only three countries that are reported to be developing serious military AI technologies: the United States, China and Russia. AI promises a significant military advantage to a nation’s offensive and defensive military capabilities.
AI now has the capacity to be merged with sophisticated but untried, new weaponry, such as offensive cyber capabilities. This is an alarming development, as it has the potential to destabilize the balance of military power among the leading industrial nations. Notably, with the advent of machine learning and AI, more targets have become available for computer hacking, meaning that critical infrastructure — banking systems, airport flight tracking, hospital records, the programs that run the nation’s nuclear power reactors — are vulnerable to attacks.
Artificial Intelligence, Cyberattacks and Nuclear Weapons: A Dangerous Combination