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Daniel S. Hoadley & Nathan J. Lucas, Artificial Intelligence and National Security (CRS Report R45178) (Ver. 5) (updated Nov. 10, 2020) (full-text).


Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a rapidly growing field of technological development with potentially significant implications for national security. As such, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) is developing AI applications for a range of military functions.

Although AI has the potential to impart a number of advantages in the military context, it may also introduce distinct challenges. AI technology can facilitate autonomous operations, lead to more informed military decision-making, and will likely increase the speed and scale of military action. However, it is also unpredictable, vulnerable to unique forms of manipulation, and presents challenges to human-machine interaction. Analysts hold a broad range of opinions on how influential AI will be in future combat operations. While a small number of analysts believe that the technology will have minimal impact, a larger number of experts believe that AI will have at least an evolutionary if not revolutionary effect.

Military AI development presents a number of potential issues for Congress:

  • What is the right balance of commercial and government funding for AI development?
  • How might Congress influence Defense Acquisition reform initiatives that ease military AI adaptation?
  • What changes, if any, are necessary in Congress and DOD to implement effective oversight of AI development?
  • What regulatory changes are necessary for military AI applications?
  • What measures can be taken to protect AI from exploitation by international competitors and preserve a U.S. advantage in the field?