Reports  |    |  June 19, 2018

Artificial Intelligence: What Every Policymaker Needs to Know

Report by By Paul Scharre and Michael Horowitz. Produced by the Center for a New American Security.


We are in the midst of an ever accelerating and expanding global revolution in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, with enormous implications for future economic and military competitiveness. Consequently, there is perhaps no debate more important than how the United States and other democratic powers exploit advances in AI and the associated technologies, sub-disciplines, and methods used to create intelligent machine behavior–within the moral, ethical, political, and legal boundaries acceptable to their leaders and citizens. The idea of establishing boundaries for AI is vitally important in democratic societies. The general public reaction to the prospect of a future where more and more tasks and decisions are delegated to machines is decidedly mixed, having been indelibly shaped for decades by science fiction writing, television, and movies. As early as 1927, Metropolis, one of the first full-length sci-fi movies ever made, told the story of a scientist who builds a robot to replace his lost love. But the robot gets other ideas and ultimately holds sway over an entire city. Metropolis is just one example of two big concerns about intelligent machines often explored in science fiction: They will either enslave us (e.g., Metropolis, the Matrix trilogy), or they will kill us (e.g., The TerminatorBattlestar Galactica). And now, given how AI and machine learning are beginning to impact the workplace, there is a third compelling concern: Intelligent machines will take our jobs (e.g., Martin Ford’s book, Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future). [ . . . ]

About this Report

This report is part of the Center for a New American Security’s series on Artificial Intelligence and International Security. The series examines the potential consequences of advances in artificial intelligence for the national security community. Nearly every aspect of national security could be transformed by artificial intelligence. AI has applications for defense, intelligence, homeland security, diplomacy, surveillance, cybersecurity, information, and economic tools of statecraft. The United States must not only anticipate these developments, but act decisively to prepare for uses by competitors and take advantage of the opportunities AI presents.