War is a sad reality of life. And while modern technologies like AI have long been seen as integral to warfare of the future, it appears that its impact will not be in ways most of us think.
As in, no R2-D2 as a loyal wingman, no Terminators to wreak havoc.
Not even Iron Man suits, for crying out loud!
That is to say, these futuristic technologies will not function themselves as an instrument of war, but instead they will function primarily as enablers. AI will change how wars are fought, but it will have no impact on the nature of war itself.
This is argued in this brilliant piece that goes over how artificial intelligence is set to permeate every aspect of warfighting — from movement to communication, logistics, intelligence, weapons, and of course, the people themselves doing the fighting.
It also talks in detail in which aspects the race to acquire AI will differ from the race for the atomic bomb, intercontinental missiles, or precision guided munitions.
There will be continuous milestones in the artificial intelligence race, as nations attempt to be the first to develop and acquire AI systems and applications. Megabytes may matter more than megatons in this world of algorithm updates and software patches.
What is truly interesting is that the commercial sector is actually dwarfing the military investments in research and development of these technologies.
For example, in 2015, the combined R&D spending at the big technology companies headquartered in the United States like Google, Apple, Facebook, IBM, Microsoft and Amazon was $54 billion.
By contrast, the Defense Department plans to allocate $4 billion towards artificial intelligence and machine learning R&D in fiscal year 2020. This is, startlingly, only 0.5% of the departmental budget, and less than a tenth of the abovementioned six companies.
Much to ponder, then.
Give this detailed article a read to learn more about how AI will impact the way wars of the future will be fought.