How Big Data and Artificial Intelligence is Changing the Battlefield?

Technology has brought forth unprecedented changes to our lives as consumers and citizens. It is also vastly changing the way we fight wars. Modern warfare has come a long way from the trenches and even a physical presence at bullet-ridden frontlines. Now, the strategies of war are highly reliant on drones, data analysis, and increasingly, artificial intelligence.

Just like AI and big data have changes our regular lives, here are several ways in which the latest tech is changing the warzones of the contemporary world:

The Battlefield is Data Driven

Battlefields contain vast amounts of information. Before this decade, it was impossible for commanders and generals to harness all that information into a centralised system. Thanks to data analysis, this is now very much the reality of modern warfare. Commanders can gain astounding amounts of situational awareness thanks to AI-powered data analysis programs, based on projects conducted by defence research associates.

Artificial Intelligence has Made Mass Surveillance a Possibility

Mass surveillance has been possible ever since millions of computers got connected to the internet. As it was recently revealed, security agencies like the NSA in the US collect phone records and meta data belonging to millions of citizens and non-citizens alike. This is Big Data. But a colossal trove of data is rather useless unless there’s a way to make sense of all of the information contained within.

This is where artificial intelligence comes in. Thanks to automated algorithms powered by machine learning, governments can pinpoint the aforementioned needle in the haystack to exact GPS coordinates. In warfare, this indicates the ability to identify targets in a manner not thought possible before. The consequences of this rapid in rather accurate way to detect patterns and targets are rather severe.

Namely, the advent of AI-powered big data is causing the concept of Mutually Assured Destruction to slowly unravel. MAD was a principle largely adopted by Cold War foes where armies understood that any attack would be retaliated in kind. But with mass surveillance methods, an army can direct an attack without the enemy even knowing about it.

Commanders Have Easy Access to Historical Information

There’s no better teacher than history, especially when it comes to warfare. Student soldiers still learn the “Art of War,” written in China centuries ago. What they used to have less access to was historical data from battlefields as recently as 50 years ago. Commanders in Vietnam, for example, filed highly detailed combat reports, which usually get stacked up in a compound. But thanks to AI-powered software, soldiers can not only get quick access to these reports.

Commanders can run analyses based on these combat reports to understand battlefield logistics better. The idea here is to learn how a future battle might churn out based on historical data. Programs can now run quick pattern and data point searches that military personnel can use for studies and practical purposes.

Perhaps the most attractive, and controversial, use of AI and big data in the battlefield is to control drones and such “battle bots.” There are still humans behind the robots, of course, but these humans benefit greatly from all the data collected and analysed using AI-powered programs.

Considering all of the above, tech will soon fundamentally change the battlefields of the future, and perhaps even move them online.