AI’s Role in National Security Crisis Decisionmaking

Carnegie China recently released their report, How AI Might Affect Decisionmaking in a National Security Crisis , to highlight the benefits and risks of integrating AI into national security planning. The report focuses on the reach of AI capabilities around the world, and how it could impact decisionmaking speed, influence perception and misperception, encourage groupthinking, and shape bureaucratic policies.

Because of AI’s ability to accumulate information and analyze data more quickly than humans, it has the potential to save time and provide a better-informed foundation for decisionmakers. However, because of the extensive amount of data it produces, AI may raise more questions than it answers. In a national emergency, decisionmakers may need to spend even more time weighing and authenticating the additional data. They would need to understand the rationale behind AI’s recommendations before gaining full confidence in its suggestions.

The report emphasizes the need for hands-on experience and training so users can gain confidence in leveraging AI-enabled decisionmaking tools. It notes that although beneficial, AI will never substitute the need for humans to make critical decisions or evaluate between different sources of information. This especially applies to military uses of AI, reinforcing the case for some form of AI governance. As AI systems become more common on the battlefield, policies will be necessary to anticipate and mitigate military applications of AI.

“In the end, they may be no more accurate than human experts, especially where context matters a lot. How much experience a group of policymakers has with the AI beforehand and how well trained they have been about its capabilities could end up being a decisive factor in whether the effects of AI are beneficial or not.”

For more information, check out the HSDL’s In Focus topic on Artificial Intelligence.

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