The US Military Braces for War in Space as They Weaponize Artificial Intelligence in the Battle for Satellites

Friday, 04 May 2018 - 1:03PM
Technology
Military Tech
Space
No
Friday, 04 May 2018 - 1:03PM
The US Military Braces for War in Space as They Weaponize Artificial Intelligence in the Battle for Satellites
< >
Pixabay Composite
Space warfare usually conjures up images of X-Wings and orbiting space stations, but the reality is that the war for space will ultimately be a war over satellites.

Without the constant stream of incoming data from key satellites, countries would be both blind and deaf to missile launches and troop movements here on Earth. On the other hand, satellites are now bringing in so much data that military commanders don't know how to sort through it all. This opens the door to a new factor in modern warfare: artificial intelligence.

Before you speed-dial your local bomb shelter and prepare for an AI-controlled World War III, you should realize we're not talking about the kind of combat AI that shot down a decorated Air Force Colonel in flight simulations. (Thank God, or whoever.) We're talking about AI that trawls through a bunch of data, extracts the important patterns and facts, and delivers them to humans for review. Ideally, the AI in question would fit inside a small chip to be placed onboard satellites so that it could sort through the data in space, and then send the salient info back to Earth. This is what Slingshot Aerospace has in mind, though the technology is still a ways off. According to Melanie Stricklan, the CTO: "We are trying to help commanders 'see through the fog of data' in situations when they have to make decisions very quickly."

Having an AI onboard a satellite will not only cut down on download times – transmitting massive amounts of (potentially irrelevant) data from space takes a long time – but will also enable a new phenomenon called "data fusion," in which multiple satellites looking at the same area using different technologies (such as high-res imagery, radar, and radio-frequencies) can combine their data and give a detailed picture of the situation. According to Stricklan, "The only way to get through that amount of data and make it relevant in the decision-space that a warfighter needs is by using machine learning and AI."

It's ironic when you think about it – 21st century warfare has all but eliminated the traditional "fog of war," but now it has to learn how to deal with what Stricklan calls the "fog of data."

Science
Science News
Technology
Military Tech
Space
No
No