In Brief
The fiscal 2017 budget request will fund “wargaming, experimentation and the demonstration of new technologies aimed at ensuring a continued military edge over China and Russia.”
The Military Edge

The Pentagon is requesting a staggering $12-$15 billion towards artificially intelligent (A.I.) weapons research and development. According to Reuters, this will fund “wargaming, experimentation and the demonstration of new technologies aimed at ensuring a continued military edge over China and Russia.”

The future of warfare is increasingly reliant on the development of advanced weapons technologies that involve deep learning machines and autonomous weapons, and the U.S. military plans to draw on these advances with a focus on human-machine collaboration and teaming in combat.

If you think that a 15 billion dollar budget is a lot of money to spend on just AI weapons, here are some other facts. First, keep in mind that this money isn’t the entire military budget, but just a small portion of the total military expenditures. In the end, the U.S. military budget is more than $600 billion. That’s higher than the seven other biggest military budgets in the world combined.

Image credit: Pete G. Peterson Foundation
Image credit: Pete G. Peterson Foundation

Second, to give you some more perspective, NASA just got its biggest budget in a decade. The approved budget is $1.27 billion more than what was requested by the Obama administration for the notoriously underfunded space agency. Congress will be granting the space agency an unexpected $19.3 billion budget for 2016.

So NASA’s entire budget for 2016 is $19.3 billion. The Pentagon wants some $15 billion just for AI weapons.

Future of Warfare

During a conference hosted by the Center for a New American Security, Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work says that, “This is designed to make the human more effective in combat. We believe that the advantage we have is … our people; that tech-savvy people who’ve grown up in the World will kick the crap out of people who grew up in the World under an authoritarian reign,” he adds.

Among the new technologies the military is looking into include wearable electronics, exoskeletons, and collaboration between manned aircraft and unmanned drones.

So. Score one for AI and for…kicking the crap out of people.