On national security |  Analyzing Intelligence in the Age of ChatGPT

On national security | Analyzing Intelligence in the Age of ChatGPT

Artificial intelligence had a big moment in 2022. Chatbot ChatGPT, developed by OpenAI, has gained notoriety for its ability to engage in seemingly human-like conversations, sparking curiosity and serious conversations about where this technology is headed. technology.

National security and space applications are poised to benefit from this new era of AI, says technologist Patrick Biltgen, director of defense and intelligence firm Booz Allen Hamilton. He says the industry is just beginning to grasp the potential of so-called generative AI, with tools like ChatGPT creating cohesive and compelling written content and models like DALL-E 2 offering realistic images from a description in natural language.

Defense and aerospace organizations have long sought AI for its ability to automate tasks, shorten decision cycles, and bring autonomy to systems. “But after ChatGPT has taken the world by storm, many people are wondering: how can this help my mission?” said Biltgen.

One such mission could be space domain awareness, where AI can help analyze objects in space and, more importantly for military leaders, determine intent to maneuver satellites. Today, human analysts judge whether an object approaching another object has a hostile intent. According to Biltgen, an AI model could be trained to provide guidance and “steer an analyst or trader through a range of possibilities.”

This kind of predictive analysis is harder than it looks because hostile attacks in space “don’t happen very often,” he says, and there is a limited amount of physics-based data to train the models. “The trickiest thing is trying to model human intent.”

The invasion of Ukraine by Russia is a perfect example. “The invasion seems totally obvious in hindsight, but when they built up forces and equipment in February, me and many others thought it was a bluff, and I was wrong,” says Biltgen. “We didn’t know what Putin really intended.”

Satellite maneuvers in orbit generally seem benign, but adversaries will continue to test the limits. “It’s a very well-known military tactic,” he says. “You fly to the edge of the other person’s country. You fly along the border. You are crossing international waters. And I think you see some of that in space where many operators have normalized the ability to move.

For intelligence analysts trying to predict a hostile act in space or on Earth, generative AI could be a game-changer if the models are properly trained.

The GPT chatbot, which stands for Generative Pre-Trained Transformer, was trained on a general body of knowledge and natural language processing. A GPT for national security analysts, for example, would be pre-trained “with every intelligence report that’s ever been written, plus every news article and all of Wikipedia,” Biltgen says.

So will AI put intelligence analysts out of work? Biltgen doesn’t think so, at least not yet. Former National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency director Robert Cardillo predicted years ago that robots would soon analyze most of the imagery collected by satellites and replace many human analysts, but that vision didn’t pan out. yet materialized.

Many AI-assisted reports today are highly formulaic and not as believable as human analysis, he adds. “Intel analysts rely on their knowledge of what they have seen happen over time.” But it’s conceivable that an algorithm could be trained for activity forecasting, which will be “really hard to do because human life and geopolitics are very messy.”

Biltgen’s final analysis: “I don’t think you could create a prediction machine, but it might be possible for a chatbot to give me a list of the most likely next steps that would occur as a result of its series of ‘events.”

And what does ChatGPT have to say about it?

“With the ability to analyze large amounts of data, detect patterns and anomalies, and make predictions and decisions at a speed and scale that humans cannot match, AI can help identify and thwart threats before they arise, thereby improving the effectiveness and efficiency of national security operations.As such, it is likely that AI will play an increasingly important role in the national security in the years to come, and its adoption and development will be a key priority for many governments around the world.

OK if you say so.


Sandra Erwin covers military space for SpaceNews. She is a veteran national security reporter and former editor of National Defense magazine.

“On National Security” appears in every issue of SpaceNews magazine. This column originally appeared in the January 2023 issue.

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