Who doesn’t love a good fight scene? Even today, people everywhere sit in theaters enthralled by superheroes fighting wars across the universe and soundly defeating their enemies with lasers, robotic soldiers, and other technologies so spellbinding they could only be conjured up in the minds of crazed screenwriters.

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Three robotic soldiers

At a recent World Economic Forum conference at the 117-year-old US Army War College, the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) into the national defense system was at the center of attention. More specifically, the organization used the event to both celebrate military personnel who excelled in critical problem solving and provide a think tank for civilian leaders and military commanders to come together and   discuss national security objectives.

The consensus was that “Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its sister technologies will be the engine behind the fourth industrial revolution,” which the forum predicts will be “unlike anything humankind has experienced before.”

Indeed, the role AI will play in future warfare is much more than in-depth than ever imagined. In the national security and armed conflicts sector, it will be responsible for things like optimizing competence through computerization, manipulating human behavior, and revolutionizing the methods by which conventional data is distributed.

Robotic Soldiers

Members of the US military make use of artificial intelligence technology.

It’s easy to think this all means robotic soldiers actually aren’t that far from becoming a reality. And while machines may be adept at killing adversaries, they’re almost always less gifted in the way of walking and running, both of which are crucial skills for today’s military personnel. For that reason alone, replacing human soldiers with them doesn’t seem viable in the foreseeable future.

In the meantime, micro-drones are constantly being upgraded and fine-tuned. Experts predict that these machines will soon be the pinnacle of airborne surveillance — not to mention ultra-accurate at launching micro-missiles.

Increased Efficiency

Humans connecting using artificial intelligence.

Military spending is a thorn in the side of many Americans, with accounts of phenomenal waste in the sector proliferating for decades now. The best distribution of their resources may not be clear-cut, but if Google can lower the use of cooling energy for its data center by 40 percent with“deep mind” computer architecture like it did in 2016, the military should be able to similarly reduce spending. With AI entering the mix, they might even be able to allocate their resources more efficiently and reverse the chronic expenditure increases that have plagued them for so long. 

Information Manipulation

Knowledge is power, and that’s never truer than it is in military operations. No longer a simple matter of hand-to-hand combat and strategies developed over paper maps and charts, AI is arguably most powerful in this area of modern warfare.

A graphic representing the spread of artificial intelligence in China.

Unlike past military frontiers, today’s battlefields are crowded with civilians mixed in with forces from all sides of conflicts. These characteristics pose a great challenge to advanced militaries, many of whom’s attacks usually come via air, which typically produce massive civilian casualties, or the deployment of troops on the ground, which increases the risk of serious injury or death to military personnel.

Man interfaces with a very advanced piece of technology.

Integrating artificial intelligence into these scenarios will be a major game-changer. Combining prognostic analytics and advanced data processing with the help of AI would aid the military in discovering critical incongruities, connections, and strategic designs for all sorts of situations.