Artificial intelligence and the future of warfare offers an innovative and counter-intuitive study of how and why AI-infused weapon systems will affect the strategic stability between nuclear-armed states. The book demystifies the hype surrounding AI in the context of nuclear weapons and, more broadly, future warfare. It highlights the potential, multifaceted intersections of this and other disruptive technology – robotics and autonomy, cyber, drone swarming, big-data analytics, and quantum communications – with nuclear stability. Anticipating and preparing for the consequences of the AI-empowered weapon systems is, therefore, fast becoming a critical task for national security and statecraft. The book considers the impact of these trends on deterrence, military escalation, and strategic stability between nuclear-armed states – especially China and the US. Surprisingly little research considers how AI might affect nuclear-armed states’ perceptions of others’ intentions, rational choices, or strategic decision-making psychology. The book addresses these topics and more. It provides penetrating, nuanced, and valuable insights grounded in the latest multi-disciplinary research. The book draws on a wealth of political and cognitive science, strategic studies, and technical analysis to shed light on the coalescence of developments in AI and other disruptive emerging technologies. It sketches a clear picture of the potential impact of AI on the digitized battlefield and broadens our understanding of critical questions for international affairs. AI will profoundly change how wars are fought, and how decision-makers think about nuclear deterrence, escalation management, and strategic stability – but not for the reasons you might think.
This book has advanced the case for narrow AI as a
fundamentally destabilizing force, which could increase the risk of nuclear war. It has
explained how, left unchecked, the uncertainties created by the rapid proliferation and
diffusion of AI into advanced weapon systems will become a significant source of future
instability and great-power (especially US–China) strategic competition. The book has
conceptualized recent technological developments in AI with the broader spectrum of emergingtechnologies
Towards this end, the chapter unpacks the following research puzzles. How
might AI and other advanced or emergingtechnologies exacerbate the co-mingling problem-set?
How concerned is China about inadvertent or accidental escalation? How serious are the
escalation risks arising from entanglement in a US–China crisis or conflict scenario?
How can the US, China, or others mitigate the escalation risks exacerbated by the advent of
AI technologies? In this way, the chapter sketches a roadmap for a journey that US and
within the broad spectrum of military technologies associated with the ‘computer
revolution.’ It argues that military AI and the advanced capabilities it enables are
best viewed as a natural manifestation of an established trend in emergingtechnology. Even
if AI does not become the next revolution in military affairs, it could have significant
implications for the central pillars of nuclear deterrence.
Strategic stability: a platonic ideal?
Combining cognition, stress, strategic culture,
wargaming, and game
tethers the book’s core arguments into a robust analytical framework. It
contextualizes AI within the broad spectrum of military technologies associated with the
‘computer revolution.’ The chapter describes the notion of ‘military
AI’ as a natural manifestation of an established trend in emergingtechnology. Even if
AI does not become the next revolution in military affairs, and its trajectory is more
incremental and prosaic, the implications for the central pillars of nuclear deterrence could
still be profound.
capability of this kind will be operational for the
foreseeable future. 39 For now, however,
the technical feasibility of this hypothesis remains highly contested. On the one hand,
several experts posit that emergingtechnologies such as AI, quantum communications, and
big-data analytics will empower new iterations of highly portable sensing, communications,
and signal-processing platforms that could render at-sea nuclear deterrence all but
On the other hand, some consider this hypothesis technically
military force use. Striking this balance will be extremely challenging, however.
Recent research on human–machine teaming in non-military
organizations highlights the complexity of optimizing human users’ trust in AI
systems, with evidence of these users veering from irrational aversion to irrational
overconfidence and trust in machines. 109 Thus, as emergingtechnologies such as AI and autonomy, quantum
computing, and big-data analytics are synthesized with and superimposed on states’
legacy NC3 systems – at various
-related (and dual-use) domains, the US will increasingly view future technological
incremental progress in emergingtechnologies – and especially unexpected
technological breakthroughs or surprises – through a national security lens. Thus,
responses to these perceived threats will be shaped and informed by broader US–China
geopolitical tensions. 96
These concerns resonated in the 2018 US Nuclear Posture Review . This
emphasized that geopolitical tensions and emergingtechnology in the nuclear domain could
Challenges in cyberdefense cooperation for the U.S. and India
threats that emergingtechnologies pose.
To be fair, this is a complex and uncharted terrain to navigate, with its
idiosyncratic challenges, but is also one that presents unique opportunities. A strategic
bilateral partnership in cyberspace is in some ways delinked from the legacy of the larger
strategic relationship and therefore can shed some of the accompanying baggage – such
as India’s onerous and monolithic defense procurement process. 2 This opens up the possibility of defining a new normal in how
the two states
strange sensorial world of insects. In his chapter, Andreas Immanuel Graae unfolds this historical link between insects and machinic life through the figure of the swarm as it is represented in the novel The Glass Bees by the German author and thinker Ernst Jünger. Jünger was an eager entomologist with a keen eye for emergingtechnologies and their impact on the human, and his story envisions a future community where robotic insects have taken over human jobs. The novel thus reflects a new set of technoscientific imaginaries that flourished in the Cold War period