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Artificial Intelligence and Autonomy: Opportunities and Challenges

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Technical Report

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Center for Naval Analyses Arlington United States

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The military is on the cusp of a major technological revolution, in which warfare is conducted by unmanned and increasingly autonomous weapon systems. This exploratory study considers the state-of-the-art of artificial intelligence AI, machine learning, and robot technologies, and their potential future military implications for autonomous and semiautonomousweapon systems. Although no one can predict how AI will evolve or how it will affect the development of military autonomous systems, we can anticipate many of the conceptual, technical, and operational challenges that DOD will face as it increasingly turns to AI-based technologies. We identified four key gaps facing DOD as the military evolves toward an autonomy era 1 a mismatch of timescales between the pace of commercial innovation and DODs acquisition process 2 an underappreciation of the fundamental unpredictability of autonomous systems 3 a lack of a universally agreed upon conceptual framework for autonomy and 4 a disconnect between the design of autonomous systems and CONOPS development. We examine these gaps, provide a roadmap of opportunities and challenges, and identify areas of future studies.

Subject Categories:

  • Cybernetics
  • Pilotless Aircraft
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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