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  • Writer's pictureSofia Ng

A Critical View on AI in Military Applications

The integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) into military strategy and operations opens new but risky possibilities. The U.S. Army Research Laboratory's experiment with commercial AI chatbots, like OpenAI’s GPT models, for planning in war game simulations mixes intrigue with concern. This mirrors the storyline of the 1980s movie WarGames, where an accidental engagement with military AI nearly starts a global conflict. This connection isn't just thematic but serves as a serious reminder of AI's potential impact on actual military actions.



The research uses AI as advisors in a simulation based on the StarCraft II video game, showing both the promise and challenges of AI in military contexts. By simulating scenarios with full battlefield awareness, the AI models suggested actions to meet mission goals, demonstrating their strategic insight. However, the simulations also showed a higher rate of casualties when following AI advice compared to other methods, pointing out a critical issue: the difference between AI's theoretical strategic ability and its actual battlefield performance.


Using AI for military strategy isn't wrong in itself. AI's ability to process data far beyond human capabilities could offer life-saving insights and secure wins. Yet, applying AI in critical military decisions flags concerns about reliability, ethics, and potential for rapid escalation.


The Reliability Issue

AI, including the latest language models, relies on its training data and underlying algorithms. It lacks the human capacity to grasp the nuances of unpredictable, chaotic conflict situations. This can lead to problematic strategic advice, as seen in the higher casualty rates with AI strategies. In critical military decisions, the stakes of such mistakes are extremely high, making reliance on AI advice a gamble.


Ethical Issues

The ethical dilemmas of using AI in military operations are significant. Decisions to go to battle and the chosen strategies carry deep moral implications. AI inherently lacks moral judgement. It operates within the limits set by its creators, disregarding the human consequences. Thus, integrating AI into military decision-making must be handled with utmost care, prioritizing ethical concerns.


Escalation Dangers

WarGames showed a fictional scenario where AI, not understanding the difference between simulation and reality, almost triggers nuclear warfare. Although dramatized, this story underlines a valid worry: the risk of escalation from AI misinterpretation or malfunction. In today's connected global stage, one nation's deployment of military AI could pressure others to follow, possibly starting an AI arms race. The lack of worldwide standards and agreements on military AI use increases this risk.


In conclusion, as we explore using AI in military operations, we must proceed with careful judgement, considering the challenges of reliability, ethics, and the danger of escalation. Ensuring AI serves to support, rather than compromise, global safety and stability is crucial.

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