Generative AI’s potential as a force multiplier in defense

BrandPost By Jay Limbasiya, Global AI, Analytics, & Data Management Business Development, Unstructured Data Solutions, Dell Technologies
Sep 07, 20236 mins
Data Management

Defense departments around the world are exploring generative AI to modernize military capabilities and achieve breakthrough innovations.

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Credit: iStock

When it comes to safeguarding people and nations, innovation can never rest. That’s why, around the world, governments and the defense industry as a whole are now investing and exploring generative artificial intelligence (AI), or large language models (LLMs), to better understand what’s possible.

At first blush, it seems that generative AI and LLM tools will present the defense industry with unprecedented breakthrough innovations. In other words, generative AI will be a force multiplier for governments and the defense industry, transforming capabilities beyond what was previously imagined. The use cases and new competencies hold significant promise.

Along with the potential of these next-level opportunities, however, come new challenges. First, there is the need to properly handle the critical data that fuels defense decisions and enables data-driven generative AI. Specifically, existing storage solutions are inadequate. Organizations need novel storage capabilities to handle the massive, real-time, unstructured data required to build, train and use generative AI. Without it, organizations can face final-mile issues that hinder generative AI capabilities. (more about this in my article about accelerating generative AI here). 

The second challenge is managing new risks, which stem primarily from the threat of misinformation. Since the consequence of failure is high, the defense industry must strike a deft balance between innovation and risk management. Simply put, the defense industry’s goal is to extract generative AI’s unique value without introducing new vulnerabilities.

Defense investing in generative AI

To do so, countries around the world are increasing defense budgets to assess and leverage generative AI. forecasts generative AI’s growth in defense at 21% CAGR from 2022-2032, creating a market size of $2.91 billion by 2032. The major users of generative AI in defense are predominantly government and military at an estimated 47% share, followed by defense contractors and research institutions.

Currently, many national governments are in an assessment phase, testing generative AI capabilities to uncover its potential, identify its prospective use cases and better understand its risks. Assessments and investments must include generative AI’s specific storage and data management needs. New storage solutions are vital to handle vast, diverse data sets (including unstructured data) with performance and scale. AI-enabled infrastructure must provide cutting-edge capabilities like distributed storage, data compression and efficient data indexing–such as Dell PowerScale and ECS, which do just that.

Beyond governments, commercial defense developments in generative AI and AI are also emerging. Recently, Google AI released a model called Imagen that can produce realistic depictions of military equipment, aiding in their design and helping to train soldiers. Microsoft recently developed Synthia, a model that creates synthetic data, which could help defense companies develop military solutions.

Defense use cases for generative AI

The specific details of generative AI use in defense remain shrouded within its strictly confidential parameters. It’s clear, however, that generative AI can boost innovation across a range of emerging use cases. Let’s look at a handful of those possible use cases and the modern military capabilities they can provide:

Enhance situational awareness and decision-making

The very premise of generative AI and LLMs is to rapidly analyze large volumes of text to aid in complex decision-making. In defense, generative AI can enhance situational awareness by analyzing data from multiple sources and identifying patterns. This can be used to predict potential terrorist attacks and insurgent activities and then recommend preemptive actions. 

In addition, generative AI can assist defense in strategic planning. LLM tools can simulate multiple scenarios and predict potential outcomes, supporting tactical, operational and strategic decisions. 

Address cybersecurity threats

Defense systems are highly targeted by sophisticated cybercriminals and new threats are constantly emerging. Generative AI can proactively identify cyber vulnerabilities in software and infrastructure to help boost cybersecurity protection. 

Develop and maintain equipment

Generative AI can hasten the development of military equipment and reduce costs by streamlining development cycles. Capabilities such as rapid prototyping, creating simulations for complex systems, and designing virtual prototypes help to speed up equipment development.

For existing military equipment, generative AI can help maintain operational readiness with proactive maintenance and repair. By predicting maintenance needs based on usage patterns and sensor data, generative AI helps reduce downtime and increase overall efficiency.

Enable realistic simulations

Military personnel training is essential but can be costly and risky. Simulations powered by generative AI can provide realistic training environments for military personnel, allowing skill-building practice without the steep costs and high risks.

Ease organization and deployment

Large-scale deployments, such as organizing troops and transporting equipment, are a reality for military operations. By optimizing factors such as terrain and weather, generative AI can create plans for more effective operations. 

Further, generative AI can help defense forces deliver humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. Effective generative AI deployments can be planned, incorporating variables such as routes, resources, and response plans.

Facilitate collaboration and language translation

Generative AI can also help to streamline international defense operations. Using real-time language translation, generative AI can facilitate collaboration and multinational interactions.

Defense innovations

In the defense industry, generative AI is a promising venture, offering governments and commercial organizations several advantages. Benefits include improved situational awareness, better decision-making, and efficient, streamlined operations. Generative AI’s promise is fueling global defense investments and will accelerate the growth of generative AI in the defense industry. Progress will be moderated by the need to preemptively mitigate risks and adopt the proper generative AI-enabling storage and infrastructure. The ultimate goal is to unlock newfound innovations while enhancing the security of nations and people around the world.

Read my related article about accelerating generative AI here.

Read more: Taking on the Compute and Sustainability Challenges of Generative AI