Artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming a vital part of modern warfare and many of the world's most powerful countries are increasing their investments in this field. Experts have estimated that the artificial intelligence expenditure in the military market is projected to grow from $6.26 billion in 2017 to $18.82 billion by 2025.
Highly advanced AI systems can be used for numerous military applications, such as handling enormous amounts of field data, improving the capabilities of many smart combat systems and, in some instances, even replacing real humans. Recently, Dr. Alexander Kott, U.S. Army’s chief of the Network Science Division of the Army Research Laboratory released a white paper that describes some of the potential uses of AI for military purposes in the near future. In this document, he described the future of warfare as populated by unmanned physical robots, aerial systems and even large vehicles that perform various duties, from fighting to scouting, carrying troops and supplies. He also pointed out that many other "disembodied" robots will reside within various computers and networks. These cyber robots will act in cyberspace and will be capable of strategizing thanks to their adversarial intelligence.
Most large countries are currently investing in AI in the military market, and the U.S. is estimated to account for the largest share of the projected investments, closely followed by China. The U.S. Air Force is working on a neuromorphic computer pioneered by IBM and DARPA that is able to process massive amounts of data with a fraction of the energy needed by normal computer chips. Currently, several "flexible AIs" are being developed to combine both human and machine intelligence together. On F-35 jet fighters, the AI evaluates data coming from multiple sensors and combines it before it's shared with pilots, providing them with sensible and relevant info and expanding their battlefield awareness. The Pentagon plans to equip ground soldiers with similar technologies as well, possibly in the form of battle visors or glasses.
China invested $1 billion in building a national quantum-information-sciences laboratory, a new technology field that could significantly push AI advancement forward. This science boosts computing power and communications by taking advantage of the ability of subatomic particles to exist in multiple states simultaneously and to mirror each other across vast distances. Quantum communications satellites transmit unbreakable encrypted information instantly, and can "supercharge" many neural networks. Additionally, the Chinese government recently revealed the existence of a new warplane with AI-powered stealth-detecting capabilities.
In terms of funding, Russia is slightly lagging behind, with just a $12.5 million yearly investment in military AI. For the most part, Russia's AI efforts seem to be focused on using machine learning in electronic warfare (EW). Countless Russian EW units have been deployed to Syria, eastern Ukraine and Crimea to collect data on electronic signals in these regions. This data is currently being fed to machine-learning software to pinpoint the specific signatures of western equipment, including missiles, sensors and vessels and improve the Russian EW defense system.