In an increasingly digital world, even national defense is taking a turn towards the virtual. The military has gained inspiration from business technologies and vice versa throughout history. Recently, this has taken on the form of artificial intelligence, and, more specifically, chatbots.
Advances in AI have led to more accurate natural language processing (NLP), which allowed for the rise of chatbots. While early versions of these programs were unnatural and often inaccurate, some modern ones are indistinguishable from human users. This development presents a profitable investment for businesses, but perhaps an even more enticing opportunity for the military.
You might’ve seen a few headlines about Russian chatbots trying to influence people online. In the hands of hostile powers, these AI systems stand as a threat to U.S.’s defenses, but they may also be the solution.
In the business world, chatbots usually serve as virtual assistants. People ask them questions as they would with another person, and the bot responds with relevant info in natural language. Just as they can help civilians find helpful information, they can provide soldiers with potentially life-saving info.
The British Ministry of Defence recently commissioned a chatbot to help soldiers access information in the field. Even with a wealth of data, humans under pressure could find it challenging to make sense of their situation and create a plan of action. With the help of this AI, soldiers could get sensible analysis quickly, helping them carry out the mission.
If America’s allies are implementing this kind of bot, it’s not a stretch to think U.S. forces could take a similar approach soon. With chatbots analyzing large data pools, military operations could be far more effective and safe.
The military’s always been on the cutting edge of technology. Just as they use advanced materials and equipment in their physical assets, their software is often beyond the civilian level. The government’s used AI for national defense for long before anyone was talking about Russian bots.
Government chatbots have been searching for and identifying threats for more than ten years. AI bots have been engaging with suspected terrorists as early as 2003, and similar technology is likely still in use. These systems can talk to multiple suspects at once, recognizing threats, and gaining intel on how to stop them through online conversation.
With today’s advanced AI, these chatbots are only more effective. Working like undercover agents, they can infiltrate chatrooms and other online discussions to find and gain data on hostile forces. Just like businesses gather information online to understand their customers fully, the military can use chatbots to get a well-rounded picture of security threats.
Sometimes the best option is to fight fire with fire. With the rise of Russian and other malicious chatbots online, friendly bots may be the most effective solution. Modern chatbots may be able to fool people, but it’s harder to deceive a similar machine.
AI can make accurate predictions about a person’s life and character, and it can do the same with other AI. A recent experiment proved chatbots can talk to each other without issue, even after identifying each other as not human. The bots in the test held lengthy, deep conversations and arguments with each other.
The military can implement chatbots to find and point out hostile AI to combat the threat of cyber warfare. It’s entirely possible, even likely, that they’re already doing so. The next arms race might just be a race to more advanced chatbots.
Even with the rise of AI, the military still needs human personnel. Chatbots can — and do — help in this regard, too. For more than a decade, the Army has used a bot called Sgt. Star to help soldiers-to-be through the recruitment process.
Because Sgt. Star can hold multiple conversations at once, it can do the work of more than 50 human recruiters. Some people may even find it easier to talk to the bot than another person, as it can be easier to ask awkward or embarrassing questions to a robot than a real person.
The role of chatbots in the military is a crucial one. From recruiting more personnel to defend the country to identifying digital threats, these intelligent systems open up a multitude of opportunities for national security.