Artificial intelligence is sweeping the nation.  Recently, we’ve seen it in the corporate news’ headlines – with Microsoft and ChatGPT, and then Google’s (failed) rollout of its own AI-enabled chatbot, called Bard

But what you might not be familiar with is how artificial intelligence is being used in National Security.

Last year, the Pentagon launched the Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence Office (CDAO) within the Department of Defense.  The CDAO is responsible for three main functions:

  1. Lead the DoD’s strategy and policy on data, analytics, AI adoption, and governance;
  2. Develop digital and AI-enabled solutions across the DoD; and
  3. Address urgent crises and emerging challenges with state-of-the-art solutions.

According to an official, the CDAO is hoping its data, data analytics, and AI will provide faster and better decision-making across the DoD, with the ultimate goal of obtaining military advantage, from campaign to conflict.1

Congress has also signaled its support of AI-use in defending the nation.  In the 2022 Intelligence Authorization Act, Congress requested the U.S. Intelligence Community develop a plan to incorporate AI into its regular operations, with a main goal of establishing an “AI digital ecosystem”. 

Within the National Security Agency (NSA), AI is already being utilized to enable speaker identification and speech-to-text processing.  James Lampton, a leader within the NSA’s Capabilities Directorate, said the NSA has, “machine translation mechanisms that serve thousands of users across the intelligence community, the U.S. military and the government, being able to process over 90 different languages.”2

According to WIRED Magazine, this machine learning (ML) enables the NSA to detect patterns within large quantities of international web traffic; review news items and publicly available records and information; and generate reports that are used by national security lawmakers.

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is also utilizing AI and ML to boost efficiency and effectiveness across their mission areas.  According to the CIA Director of Artificial Intelligence, Lakshmi Raman, the CIA is “working toward the whole-of-agency approach” with artificial intelligence.3

To support its AI efforts, the CIA has contracted with cloud computing and infrastructure platform providers, including Amazon, Google, Oracle, Microsoft and IBM.

According to Raman, “They offer that backbone for our officers to develop and deploy their own AI and data analytics tools when necessary.” She continued, “I think those managed services available via some of those cloud providers are going to be key to how we apply AI to some of our highest-priority mission problems.”4

Hopefully, the CIA’s reliance on Google isn’t misplaced, and it performs better than Bard did during a demonstration when it answered, “What new discoveries from the James Webb Space Telescope can I tell my 9 year old about?” incorrectly… causing Alphabet (Google’s parent company) to lose $100 billion in market cap in just one day