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Task force: U.S. must prioritize AI in race to defend against Russia, China

By
Arnab Mondal
A congressional task force report this week recommended the Pentagon focus funding and effort in artificial intelligence, biotechnology and cyber warfare as part of countering the growing power of China and Russia. Photo by Cpl. Jessica Davey/U.S. Marine Corps
A congressional task force report this week recommended the Pentagon focus funding and effort in artificial intelligence, biotechnology and cyber warfare as part of countering the growing power of China and Russia. Photo by Cpl. Jessica Davey/U.S. Marine Corps

A bipartisan congressional task force this week recommended that the Department of Defense prioritize investing in artificial intelligence, supply chain resiliency and cyberwarfare in order to deal with imminent threats from China and Russia.

The Future of Defense Task Force, chaired by Reps. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., and Jim Banks, R-Ind., on Tuesday released an 87-page report pointing out the vulnerabilities in U.S. national security and recommending how to fix them.

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Banks said in a statement that the Pentagon needs to innovate to ensure the United States maintains its global military supremacy, and the report was the roadmap to do it.

"This report details a vision of the future of defense--specifically a smart, whole-of-nation strategy addressing the rise of China," he said.

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The U.S. economic and military dominance post-Cold War has been reduced in recent years, the report said. China is expected to soon overtake the United States as the world's largest economy, and despite historic defense spending, the United States has failed to keep pace with China's and Russia's military modernization.

"If we fail to act on this plan, the world order will shift from one that favors democracy to one that favors authoritarianism," Moulton said.

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The Future of Defense Task Force was launched last October to examine how to maintain the Pentagon's technological edge against Russia and China.

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Advancements in artificial intelligence, biotechnology, quantum computing and space, cyber, and electronic warfare are making traditional battlefields and boundaries increasingly irrelevant, according to the report. The United States also remains vulnerable to increasing cyberattacks against civilian populations.

"Using the Manhattan Project as a model, the United States must undertake and win the artificial intelligence race by leading in the invention and deployment of AI while establishing the standards for its public and private use," the report said.

It recommends that all new defense acquisition programs should be AI-ready and have evaluated at least one AI or autonomous alternative prior to funding.

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The task force said the U.S. should invest at least 1% of the GDP in foundational science and technology research, and the Pentagon should implement the recommendation of the Defense Science Board to spend 3.4% of its total budget on science and technology research programs.

Pointing out that the COVID-19 pandemic had illustrated that a lack of domestic manufacturing capability and access to reliable supply chains "is among our greatest national security and economic vulnerabilities," the task force recommended forming a National Supply Chain Intelligence Center under the Director of National Intelligence to monitor and protect U.S. supply chain interests.

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The report also advised that to ensure the preservation of human rights, the United States should push for a global treaty on artificial intelligence to "establish accountability, promote collaboration and transparency, ensure fairness, and limit the harmful use of AI."

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The treaty would also be expected to create an international code of ethics and privacy protections to ensure personal freedoms.

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