Artificial intelligence (AI) may be the most beneficial technological development of the twenty-first century, but it is often misunderstood outside of specialists in the field. AI at War provides a balanced and practical understanding of this dawning new technology, explaining the importance of machine learning, human-machine interfaces, and big data analysis, components that are often omitted or misunderstood. While AI has many potential applications, Tangredi and Galdorisi have brought together more than thirty experts to focus on those elements relating to national security, making clear the importance and the potential of AI in defending the nation and in warfighting. Contributors include Robert Work, former Deputy Secretary of Defense; Admiral James Stavridis, former Commander, Supreme Allied Commander Europe; Admiral Michael Rogers, former Director of the National Security Agency; and Admiral Scott Swift, former Commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet; as well as scientists and operators who share their theoretical and experiential knowledge of this “game-changing” new field.
What is the Backstory Behind AI at War?
The U.S. Naval Institute encourages naval personnel, as well as others, to “Read, Think, Speak and Write.” As long-term members of the U.S. Naval Institute, we believed that a book that examined the impact of big data, artificial intelligence, and machine learning on naval warfare would help the U.S. Naval Institute become a leader in fostering an informed dialogue on this important subject.
Was there an experience that you had that caused you to see a need for AI at War?
As former active duty naval officers with over a half-century of uniformed service between us, including multiple commands at sea, we saw the information revolution evolving into one dominated by big data, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. Now, in our capacity as Navy civilians working on policy (Sam) and technology (George) in these areas, we believe the need for such a book in 2021 is compelling, as there has been vastly more heat than light on this subject.
How has writing AI at War made you a better thinker and better person?
We are blessed to have an outstanding group of chapter authors, all experts in one or more of the policy, strategy, security, operational or other aspects of big data, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. Working with each of them to help make their individual contributions part of a coherent whole helped us become better thinkers and writers.
Is there one short story from your book you would like to share?
Bringing together a wide array of professionals to contribute to one book is an adventure. If we learned anything it is that people have vastly different writing styles. Therefore, while we clearly focused on ensuring that the book’s content was solid, harmonizing the writing styles of over two dozen chapter authors was challenging, but ultimately rewarding.
What is the biggest takeaway that you hope a reader will take fromAI at War?
Big data, artificial intelligence, and machine learning have the potential to change warfare as profoundly as the invention of gunpowder. However, achieving that effect requires wise implementation and realistic expectations. War will not be less violent and bloody, but operations will be faster and take new forms.
What lessons can a Junior Officer take from your book?
Regardless of what warfare community a junior officer belongs to, AI will be an important part of his or her professional life. The real professional officer will attempt to know everything possible about AI. This book helps as a guide.
What advice would you have for a mid-career military officer who is considering writing a book?
Two things only:
1.Write what you know.
2. Write what you are passionate about.
What are you reading now?
George: I am reading Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihjalyi
Sam: I recently finished and reviewed for USNI Proceedings Hu Bo’s Chinese Maritime Power in the 21st Century. It is not an easy read, but important. Hu is a Chinese civilian academic who appears to be an unofficial spokesman for PRC naval ambitions. He makes no doubt that they intend to drive the U.S. out of the Western Pacific. The book includes discussions of politically decoupling the U.S. from Australia and Japan. To get un-depressed I’m re-reading Patrick O’Brian’s The Letter of Marque at the moment.
What is next for you?
George: New novel, Fire and Ice (Braveship Books)
Sam: I have a number of ongoing writing projects while attempting to find a publisher for my non-fiction future forecast Bottom Dead Center: Surviving Our De-Globalized Future, which is written for a general, non-academic audience. Mainstream publishers have praised the writing but say the forecast is too bleak and readers won’t buy it. I’ve been researching the effects of growing deglobalization for almost a decade. It is bleak. We need to take action now to head off the worse effects. If current trends continue, our grandchildren will be less prosperous and less secure than we are today. I suppose that if I wrote it as a novel it might be more acceptable. Unfortunately, it’s reality.
Sam Tangredi is the Leidos Chair of Future Warfare Studies and professor of national, naval, and maritime strategy at the U.S. Naval War College. A U.S. Naval Academy and Naval Postgraduate School graduate, he earned a PhD in international relations from the University of Southern California. He served a thirty-year naval career as a surface warfare officer and as a strategic planner and leader of strategic planning. He is author of Anti-Access Warfare: Countering A2/AD Strategies. Sam can be reached via his new website coming soon!
George Galdorisi is the Director of Strategic Assessments and Technical Futures at the Naval Information Warfare Center Pacific. He speaks and writes frequently on the operational uses of big data, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. Prior to joining NIWC Pacific, he completed a thirty-year career as a naval aviator including four command tours and five years as a carrier strike group chief of staff. He has written a total of fourteen books published by mainstream publishers, including four consecutive New York Times best-sellers.