Artificial Intelligence and National Security, and More from CRS

12.02.19 | 2 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

The 2019 defense authorization act directed the Secretary of Defense to produce a definition of artificial intelligence (AI) by August 13, 2019 to help guide law and policy. But that was not done.

Therefore “no official U.S. government definition of AI yet exists,” the Congressional Research Service observed in a newly updated report on the subject.

But plenty of other unofficial and sometimes inconsistent definitions do exist. And in any case, CRS noted, “AI research is underway in the fields of intelligence collection and analysis, logistics, cyber operations, information operations, command and control, and in a variety of semiautonomous and autonomous vehicles. Already, AI has been incorporated into military operations in Iraq and Syria.”

“The Central Intelligence Agency alone has around 140 projects in development that leverage AI in some capacity to accomplish tasks such as image recognition and predictive analytics.” CRS surveys the field in Artificial Intelligence and National Security, updated November 21, 2019.

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The 2018 financial audit of the Department of Defense, which was the first such audit ever, cost a stunning $413 million to perform. Its findings were assessed by CRS in another new report. See Department of Defense First Agency-wide Financial Audit (FY2018): Background and Issues for Congress, November 27, 2019.

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The Arctic region is increasingly important as a focus of security, environmental and economic concern. So it is counterintuitive — and likely counterproductive — that the position of U.S. Special Representative for the Arctic has been left vacant since January 2017. In practice it has been effectively eliminated by the Trump Administration. See Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress, updated November 27, 2019.

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Other noteworthy new and updated CRS reports include the following (which are also available through the CRS public website at crsreports.congress.gov).

Resolutions to Censure the President: Procedure and History, updated November 20, 2019

Immigration: Recent Apprehension Trends at the U.S. Southwest Border, November 19, 2019

Air Force B-21 Raider Long Range Strike Bomber, updated November 13, 2019

Precision-Guided Munitions: Background and Issues for Congress, November 6, 2019

Space Weather: An Overview of Policy and Select U.S. Government Roles and Responsibilities, November 20, 2019

Intelligence Community Spending: Trends and Issues, updated November 6, 2019