AI Case Study

Pentagon research project to build threat warning system to counter North Korean nuclear programme.

The Pentagon, probably along with other US and international actors, is examining the potential to use AI to monitor images and data sources from the Korean peninsula to predict the risk of hostile action by the North Korean state. U.S. officials familiar with the research told Reuters there are multiple classified programs now under way.

If the research is successful, the system would scan huge amounts of data, including satellite imagery, to predict signs of preparations for military activity, including a missile launch. This would effectively speed up, scale and develop an intelligence analysis system in place since at least the Cuban Missile Crisis. The risk of misreading information and misunderstanding remains pertinent.

Industry

Public And Social Sector

Security

Project Overview

According to Reuters:
"'What AI and machine learning allows you to do is find the needle in the haystack,' said Bob Work, a champion of AI technology who was deputy defense secretary until July 2017, without referring to any individual projects.

One person familiar with the programs said it includes a pilot project focused on North Korea. While that project has been kept secret, the military has been clear about its interest in AI. This project involves military and private researchers in the Washington D.C. area. It is pivoting off technological advances developed by commercial firms financed by In-Q-Tel, the intelligence community’s venture capital fund, officials said.

In order to carry out the research, the project is tapping into the intelligence community’s commercial cloud service, searching for patterns and anomalies in data, including from sophisticated radar that can see through storms and penetrate foliage.

Experts at the Rand Corporation, a public policy research body, and elsewhere say there is a high probability that countries like China and Russia could try to trick an AI missile-hunting system, learning to hide their missiles from identification. Last year, NGA said it used AI to scan and analyze 12 million images."

Reported Results

"Although some officials believe elements of the AI missile program could become viable in the early 2020s, others in the U.S. government and the U.S. Congress fear research efforts are too limited. 'The Russians and the Chinese are definitely pursuing these sorts of things,' Representative Mac Thornberry, the House Armed Services Committee’s chairman, told Reuters. 'Probably with greater effort in some ways than we have.'"

Technology

Function

Risk

Security

Background

Washington is increasingly concerned about Pyongyang’s development of mobile missiles that can be hidden in tunnels, forests and caves.

Benefits

Data