China rising? The US is too! The US Department of Defense is seeking a massive increase in its AI warfare budget, as it makes battlefield-ready artificial intelligence a priority in its planning.
This, to counter the rapid advances in the field that the Chinese are currently making.
Nikkei Asian Review has the details, where the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center requested a substantial $268 million under the draft federal budget for the fiscal year that began October 1 — roughly triple the figure set aside the previous year.
This also marks the first time that the Defense Department is explicitly seeking combat applications of the AI technology. Up until now, the US military has primarily focused its AI development efforts on predictive maintenance for weapons systems.
That, and humanitarian missions and cybersecurity.
But while these combat applications are not meant to be game-changing in the sense of lethal autonomous weapons considerations, they are still expected to make an enormous impact day to day on the warfighter by getting through command and control faster.
Lt. Gen. Jack Shanahan, director, told reporters in a recent press briefing:
“I am optimistic that 2020 will be a breakout year for the department when it comes to fielding AI-enabled capabilities. For fiscal year ’20, our biggest project will be what we are calling ‘AI for manoeuvre and fires,’ with individual lines of effort or product lines oriented on warfighting operations.”
He topped it off by saying that he does not want to see a future where potential adversaries have a fully AI enable force, and the United States does not.
What a future that would be!
This development comes soon after China flaunted an array of unmanned vehicles, Tuesday, at its ceremony honoring the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic.
The Chinese military is developing drone swarm technology that has a large number of drones that can make decisions autonomously based on shared information. Add to this the fact that there is a closer cooperation between the military and private sector in China.
No wonder, this sense of urgency in how Pentagon wants to level up its artificial intelligence efforts.
Things are heating up, you can say.