This article originally appeared at the West Point Institute of Modern Warfare.
We’ve just finished the fifth week of the new National Security Class at Stanford – the Technology, Innovation, and Great Power Challenge. Joe Felter, Raj Shah, and I designed the class on how technology shapes it. All elements National power (US influence and footprint on the world stage).
In Part 1, we learned that national power is the combination of a nation’s diplomacy, intelligence/intelligence, military capabilities, economic strength, finance, intelligence, and law enforcement. This “whole of government approach” is known by the acronym DME– FIL
Part 2 was focused on China, America’s first great power competitor. China uses all elements of national power: diplomacy (soft power, alliances, coercion), intelligence, military power and economic strength (Belt and Road Initiative), as well as Western finance and technology. China’s aim is to challenge and reverse the US-led liberal international order and replace it with a neo-totalitarian model.
The third part is focused on Russia, which since 2014 has proven itself as a competitive great power. We learned how Russia pursues security and economic interests in parallel with its ideological goals. Sometimes these objectives are complementary to each other. Russian policy is driven by Vladimir Putin and his political establishment, and they will clash again.
The fourth section turns our attention to the impact of business technologies on DIME-FIL. It was the first technology that we investigated semiconductors, 21st century oil. The US is dependent on TSMC in Taiwan for its most advanced logic chips. China claims that Taiwan is a Chinese territory, and this is problematic.
Today’s Episode: Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning
Catch up on the episode by reading our introduction to the episode and summaries of Episodes 1, 2, 3, and 4.
Introduction to AI
The AI Arms Race: Fact or Fiction?
China’s AI strategy
- Jeffrey Ding, “China’s Current Capabilities, Policies, and Industrial Environment in AI.” US-China Economic and Security Review Commission Hearing on Technology, Trade, and Military-Civil Integration: Testimony on China’s Artificial Intelligence, New Materials, and New Energy.June 7, 2019
- Helen Toner, “Technology, Business, and Military-Civil Integration: China’s Search for Artificial Intelligence, New Materials, and New Energy.” Testimony before the US-China Economic and Security Review CommissionJune 7, 2019
- Ryan Fedesiuk, Jennifer Mellott, Ben Murphy, “Armed Lightning, How the Chinese Military is Adopting the Center for Artificial Security and Emerging Technologies (CSET).”
Russian AI strategy
America’s AI strategy
The Trump administration
The Biden administration
Other AI and national security resources
Reading Assignment Questions:
Choose one of the following questions and answer in approximately 100 words based on the required reading. Please note that this assignment is graded and counts toward course participation.
- How would you describe the geopolitical AI arms race? Is the “arms race” the right lens to understand this phenomenon, or is there another way to better understand the great power race in the AI domain?
- Can the US learn any lessons from China’s AI strategy?
Part 5 – Guest Speakers
Our speakers for our fifth session were Mike Brown, Nand Mulchandani and Jacqueline Tame.
Mike Brown is the director of the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) – a Defense Department organization that contracts with commercial companies to solve national security problems. Previously, Mike was CEO of Symantec and Quantum.
Nand Mulchandani is the Chief Technology Officer of the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC). JAIC is the focal point of the Defense Department’s AI strategy.
Jacqueline Tame was JAIC’s former acting deputy director and architect of JAIC’s “Gamechanger,” an AI-driven policy analysis tool.
Mike Brown led the session with an overview of the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU).
If you were unable to view Mike Brown’s Defense Innovation Unit presentation, click here.
Key takeaways from Mike’s talk 1) 50 years ago, defense-related R&D accounted for 36 percent of global R&D. Today, defense-related R&D is 4%. Key technologies needed for defense today are being worked on by commercial companies (5G, AI, biotech, quantum, space access, batteries, etc. Contractors outnumbered 11 to 1 in R&D ($70.5B vs. $6.2B).
DIU’s role is to acquire commercial technology solutions through prototyping, transitioning, and modeling and infusing them into the DoD. They have an extremely fast pipeline from problem solving, evaluating and selecting companies, then prototyping and submitting them to DoD programs (per DoD requirements). AI/ML DIU focuses on one of six core areas (Space, Autonomy, Advanced Energy and Materials, Cyber and Human Systems). to do
Nand Mulchandani explained the role and motivation of JAIC. One gamechanger in particular was conceived and directed by Jacqueline Tame.
Gamechanger uses AI to solve problems that only government can create. DD and federal regulations have 10’s of thousands of policies, laws, regulations that tell decision makers what they can and cannot do. These are available in different places on different networks and change almost daily. Now it’s simply “Do I have the authority to do x?” You can type a natural language query called or “How can I buy this item faster?” inter alia.
If you can’t see the slides, click here
Our first discussion in the episode (Slide 7) was whether Nicholas Childs (the Air Force’s first chief software officer) was correct in saying that we are losing the AI war with China.
Slides 9-14 begin a discussion of the geopolitical implications of AI. After both China and Russia embark on a national AI effort, how will AI affect all DME (diplomatic, intelligence, military, and economic) and national power? What are the effects of AI created by deep fakers? Automatic image recognition of satellite data? AI creating better operating concepts? AI-adjusted cyber-attack? AI Cyber Security? AI smart/predictive maintenance? etc. Where do we see the impact first? What will be our response?
Class discussion questions: (Slide 15)
- How are the strengths and weaknesses of the US AI strategy defined?
- How do you recommend the Biden administration pursue an AI strategy?
next week: Autonomous and unmanned systems
- AI and machine learning is a critical technology affecting all aspects of DME (diplomatic, intelligence, military and economic) and national power.
- Most of the advanced work in AI/ML is being done by commercial companies and universities, not the DoD
- China and Russia have made AI and machine learning a national priority
- The Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) exists to acquire commercial technologies such as AI/ML and infuse them into the DoD.
- The Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC) is the focal point of the Defense Department’s AI strategy.
Filed under: Technological innovation and the great power race |