21 December 2023
Australia’s strategic environment is changing, with the need to harness emerging technology.
This noticeable shift includes a heavier reliance on artificial intelligence (AI) – the ability for a machine to conduct an activity that would normally need human intelligence.
Building AI capabilities in Australia that meet Defence’s needs is critical.
Defence operates in harsh environments subject to adversarial action, where communication connectivity may be denied or disrupted, and data corrupted.
Artificial Intelligence program leader at the Defence Science and Technology Group (DSTG) Robert Hunjet said partnering with industry and academia is crucial to ensure the creation of resilient AI for Defence.
“Most of the AI being developed assumes benign environments, which isn’t representative of the Defence context,” he said.
“Partnerships which incentivise academia and industry to tackle the hard problems faced by Defence is key to building resilient and robust AI-enabled systems.”
The Defence AI Research Network (DAIRNet), a community of researchers focused on developing AI capabilities for Defence, recently hosted the Defence AI Symposium, bringing together academia, industry and Defence representatives to collaborate and share ideas.
DAIRNet is working with Australian universities on research projects such as autonomous processing and reasoning; human-AI interaction; distributed multi-domain networks; and identifying patterns in noisy and dynamic data.
Director Warfighting Networks and Applications, Joint Capabilities Group, Group Captain David Clyde, discussed the advantages AI could provide to Defence in his keynote speech at the symposium.
“For AI to be an effective decision aid in a complex and contested operating environment, it must deal with the fog of war,” Group Captain Clyde said.
“Militaries which learn how to marry human and machine cognition to take advantage of the unique way AI systems think will gain a decisive operational advantage and be able to make better decisions faster.”
Dr Hunjet said AI was a broad field and early examples can be seen in extant systems such as aircraft autopilots and signal processing.
“The scope of AI remains very dynamic, and we need to continue working with the biggest brains in the business to solve the challenges of today and tomorrow,” he said.
The use of AI in the Defence context is widespread, with the technology applied in numerous projects for many different applications ranging from automating office processes through to analysing images.
Bringing together experts in AI from across Defence is key to ensuring future capabilities are trusted and fit for purpose.
Dr Hunjet said AI provided the opportunity to process large amounts of data without relying on large numbers of people, improving the speed and quality of decision-making.
“This would allow Defence to focus the talents and experience of our people on the areas that matter most.”