The United States’ global network of alliances and partnerships is a force multiplier in the strategic competition against China and Russia. With artificial intelligence as the focal point of this competition, fostering AI defense and security cooperation is becoming increasingly important. In fact, in its final report, the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence has recommended strengthening AI interoperability with U.S. allies and partners as a key element of building an AI-ready force by 2025. The AI future of the United States is then inherently intertwined with that of our allies and partners.
Although there are powerful incentives for multinational collaboration on AI, there are also nonnegligible technical, bureaucratic, and political barriers that could prevent like-minded nations from realizing a shared vision for the responsible use of military AI. This issue brief summarizes these challenges and then makes the argument that multinational collaboration on AI applications for military logistics and sustainment offers the path of least resistance. Our key takeaways are:
- Multinational collaboration efforts on military applications of AI face an uphill battle. Public misgivings about the militarization of AI, tensions with Europe on questions of regulations and data privacy, lack of clarity regarding the best forum for collaboration, and technical challenges to ensuring that hardware and digital systems are interoperable and secure could impede efforts to work together.
- While no easy task, collaboration on AI-enabled technologies and applications related to military logistics and sustainment is technologically attainable, politically feasible, and strategically imperative.
- There are multiple pathways for collaboration on this set of technologies and applications, including joint standards for secure data sharing; collaborative research and development programs; multinational public-private partnerships; and joint military exercises that include AI-enabled logistics and sustainment technologies and capabilities.
As the Biden administration moves to implement its foreign policy agenda of rebuilding U.S. alliances and confronting China’s assertiveness, multinational collaboration on emerging technologies takes center stage. While not without challenges, joint projects centered on developing, maturing, and adapting AI applications for military logistics and sustainment offer both a viable and promising path forward.