The US Pacific Air Force (PACAF) is exploring the possibilities of using artificial intelligence (AI) to analyse tonnes of information that the military obtains from various sources, both current and past to better and more rapidly predict a potential enemy’s possible intentions, PACAF’s Integration Division Deputy Chief Ryan Raber revealed at the Genius Machines event on 3 September.
The planned mechanism will be used to improve PACAF’s decision-making process and will focus on events taking place in the Pacific region, which means Russia and China could be the potential objects of study, the media outlet Defence One pointed out. PACAF itself didn't specify which countries' actions the planned system will try to predict.
The system is expected to forecast a potential adversary's actions by detecting irregularities in its routines based on analysis of past and current actions. The process takes days when done by humans, but by computer with AI it can theoretically handle the result in "just minutes".
“If you’ve got six months, eight months, a year’s worth of data, you start to understand what the pattern looks like. Here’s what I know is ‘normal.’ Then we start to pick out the data points that are abnormal. And then we start to focus on those and figure out what they mean to us. Is that adversary aircraft preparing for something?" Raber explained.
According to the PACAF official, such a system, ironically developed at Pearl Harbor, where the US fleet suffered major damage during an unexpected assault in the Second World War, will allow the American military to be prepared for possible "potshots". Raber noted that the goal is to be "in front of [an enemy's] decision cycle" to adequately respond to its actions.
The revelation about plans for a future AI-based analytical system comes days after former US Deputy Defence Secretary Robert Work cautioned against using artificial intelligence to process data for future decision making. He called the possible emergence of systems that will advise nuclear strike options after processing intelligence data, an "alarming prospect".
The US currently has strained relations with two major military forces in the Pacific region – China and Russia, as well as a history of confrontation with North Korea. While there have been few incidents with the Russian military in the Pacific, the US fleet regularly conducts missions in China-controlled disputed waters. Beijing, which has been reinforcing its military presence on islands in the South China Sea, regularly criticises Washington's "provocations" there.