AI, Robots, and Swarms

January, 2017


The military is on the cusp of a major technological revolution, in which warfare is conducted by unmanned and increasingly autonomous weapon systems. However, unlike the last “sea change,” during the Cold War, when advanced technologies were developed primarily by the Department of Defense (DoD), the key technology enablers today are being developed mostly in the commercial world. This study looks at the state-of-the-art of AI, machine-learning, and robot technologies, and their potential future military implications for autonomous (and semi-autonomous) weapon systems. While no one can predict how AI will evolve or predict its impact on the development of military autonomous systems, it is possible to anticipate many of the conceptual, technical, and operational challenges that DoD will face as it increasingly turns to AI-based technologies. This study examines key issues, identifies analysis gaps, and provides a roadmap of opportunities and challenges. It concludes with a list of recommended future studies. 

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