According to a list published recently by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, which audits federal agencies and programs, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) is currently involved with more than 685 artificial intelligence (AI) projects. Some of these projects include major weapon systems such as the MQ-9 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle and the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle.

For purposes of combat, the DoD is focused on AI abilities that assist in target recognition, battlefield analysis and autonomy on unmanned systems. One example of AI for autonomous systems is the U.S. Navy’s Undersea Warfare Decision Support System, which is designed to help plan and execute undersea missions.

Generally, AI will help machines perform tasks such as drawing conclusions and making predictions in place of human thinking. Additionally, the hope is that AI-enabled machines will be able to maneuver and switch tactics at speeds that human operators simply cannot. Of course, at this point, AI in the defense industry is nowhere near to outthinking humans. The DoD will need troves of data and computing power to extensively program and train the AI systems before humans can be truly replaced. Nevertheless, the DoD has invested in AI and is prioritizing this technology to modernize defense systems and capabilities. For fiscal year 2022, the DoD requested $14.7 billion for science and technology programs (which include these AI projects —about $874 million directly to support AI programs and research).

This report suggests that AI will be extremely important to the defense industry and troops in the future. To view the full report, click here.