6 Benefits of Artificial Intelligence in the Military

October 12, 2020 • Zachary Amos


Artificial intelligence (AI) has a growing number of applications in various fields, and military branches don’t want to miss out on the opportunities it brings. The military has already used machine learning for weapons systems, logistics, targeting and battle simulations. Here are six further benefits of artificial intelligence in the military that are changing the world of defense and national security. 

1. Better Threat Identification

Battlefields are inherently dangerous places, but the U.S. Army thinks AI could reduce some of the risks. It’s working on a system called the Aided Threat Recognition from Mobile Cooperative and Autonomous Sensors (ATR-MCAS).

Despite its long name, the development has a straightforward purpose. The technology will help soldiers become aware of threats faster and get advice about how to deal with them. People on the battlefield can also use ATR-MCAS in a roving or fixed position for reconnaissance or surveillance.

The Army’s approach involves putting smart sensors on its air and ground vehicles. They collect data and send it to an AI agent that processes it and makes decisions accordingly. For example, the tool could recommend which threats soldiers should tackle first.

2. Reduced Staff Requirements

Industries like manufacturing and agriculture frequently use AI to cut down on the size of the required labor force. The U.S. Navy hopes to do the same with an autonomous ship built by Leidos Holdings, a defense contractor based in Virginia. 

The ship completed a round trip of more than 4,000 miles for its first proof-of-concept journey. Although 14 support staff members followed behind it in another vessel, the innovative water vehicle did not have any workers on board for the trip. 

All the AI systems worked as intended, but a mechanical system forced the crew in the trailing boat to intervene. Once they did, the effort was soon back on track. The Navy is not ready for widespread deployment of this high-tech ship, but it’s exciting to think about the possibilities. 

3. Improved Recruiting

National defense branches have used numerous recruitment methods over the years, ranging from television commercials to job fair booths. One of the benefits of artificial intelligence in the military is that the technology could make it easier to find suitable people who are ready to serve. 

For example, the Air Force Special Operations Command has 30 years of compiled data and uses AI algorithms to figure out which traits make an ideal candidate. Depending on artificial intelligence like that means that recruiters may pay less attention to physical abilities and seek out other valuable characteristics, like resilience and leadership. 

The Army also launched a female chatbot to pair with a male version it introduced earlier. A source indicates that about 35% of the Army website’s 2.5 million monthly visitors are women. The hope is that a female chatbot could make women feel more comfortable asking certain questions, such as if pregnancy impacts recruitment.  

4. More Preparedness

Effective training is a massive part of a successful military experience. The education soldiers receive affects their performance and impacts everyone who works with them on missions.

The U.S. Army and Air Force completed pilot programs of an AI training tool that provides the content and measures progress. Using it reportedly enables a 40% reduction in the time needed to complete the material. 

Another one of the benefits of artificial intelligence in the military for this purpose is that there’s no chance of learners using outdated textbooks. They receive the curriculum on tablets, and those gadgets instantly reflect any updates to the material made by the distributors.

5. Enhanced Cybersecurity

When companies get successfully targeted for cyberattacks, the employees at those enterprises often have to shut down their computers and rely solely on pen-and-paper methods until IT experts address the problem. It’s easy to envision how catastrophic a similar attack could be on advanced military technology. 

The U.S Army recently put out a call for research about how artificial intelligence-powered cybersecurity options could safeguard soldiers’ tactical and communications networks. It wants to explore how machine learning technology could protect against autonomous, adaptive threats. 

Military officials recognize that AI has limitations. It could be a while before these emerging cybersecurity tools come into widespread use. It’s important that people are at least getting to know the technology’s potential, though. 

6. Smoother Transportation

Soldiers often have to drive their vehicles over unfamiliar terrain or guide them through areas with limited or no road infrastructure. Research is underway to equip autonomous vehicles with AI so that military personnel can receive travel-assistance.

For example, those futuristic vehicles could show soldiers the locations of all passable routes or advise them on the fastest path to a given destination. Driving through unknown areas requires people to stay on high alert while operating their vehicles. AI could reduce some of the cognitive strain they feel.

This application of AI in the military is still in the early stages. However, it’s easy to see why such an approach could aid soldiers facing uncertain travel circumstances. 

AI Is Bringing Progress to the Military

AI is an incredibly diverse technology. In addition to the compelling benefits of artificial intelligence in the military described here, people should bear in mind that there are undoubtedly more advantages on the horizon that no one has even conceived yet.