Russia and China want to revolutionize their forces with weaponized artificial intelligence, a field in which the U.S. risks falling behind, according to a new report released Wednesday from former defense officials and field experts.
The report, from government data analysis group Govini and former Department of Defense Chief Robert Work, says America’s two biggest military competitors are rapidly advancing with AI, leaving the U.S. military with the choice of whether it wants to “lead the coming revolution, or fall victim to it.”
“This stark choice will be determined by the degree to which the Department of Defense (DoD) recognizes the revolutionary military potential of AI and advanced autonomous systems,” the report said, according to CNN, which first obtained it.
Russia’s military has utilized artificial intelligence in cruise missiles and drones. Russia announced progress last week for its plan to send its gun-wielding Final Experimental Demonstration Object Research (FEDOR) robot to space. The advanced robot can also drive cars, exercise and, supposedly, help bring Russia’s spacecraft Federatsiya into orbit by 2020. Russia has also shown off a Ratnik-3 third-generation infantry combat suit.
China has entered the race as well. As Chinese President Xi Jinping revamps the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to include a new cyber focus, his government announced earlier this year investments of billions of dollars into AI in a bid to outpace the U.S. and Russia.
The direction appeared to pay off, literally, as Chinese start-up Yitu Tech took home a $25,000 prize from a face recognition contest hosted this month by the research wing of the U.S.’s own Defense Intelligence Agency.
“China is no longer in a position of technological inferiority but rather sees itself as close to catching up with and overtaking the United States in AI. As such, the PLA intends to achieve an advantage through changing paradigms in warfare with military innovation, thus seizing the ‘commanding heights’…of future military competition,” the Center for a New American Security’s Elsa Kania wrote in a report published Tuesday.
While the U.S. military has already excelled in using wielding artificial intelligence in some of its most powerful weapons, including the F-35 Lightning Jet II, the reports from Kania and from Work and Govini urged President Donald Trump to formulate a long-term strategy to boost American development of AI.