The Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), an independent think tank engaged in cutting edge defense and security research, was commissioned by the U.K.’s Government Communication Headquarters (GCHQ) to conduct an independent research study into the use of artificial intelligence (AI) for national security purposes.
The aim of the project is to establish an independent evidence base to inform future policy development regarding national security uses of AI. The findings are based on in-depth consultation with stakeholders from across the U.K. national security community, law enforcement agencies, private sector companies, academic and legal experts, and civil society representatives. This was complemented by a targeted review of existing literature on the topic of AI and national security.
The study found that AI offers many opportunities for the U.K. national security community to improve efficiency and effectiveness of existing processes. AI methods can rapidly derive insights from large, disparate datasets and identify connections that would otherwise go unnoticed by human operators.
The research highlights three primary ways in which intelligence agencies could seek to deploy AI:
- The automation of administrative organisational processes could offer significant efficiency savings, for instance to assist with routine data management tasks, or improve efficiency of compliance and oversight processes.
- For cybersecurity purposes, AI could proactively identify abnormal network traffic or malicious software and respond to anomalous behavior in real time.
- For intelligence analysis, ‘Augmented Intelligence’ (AuI) systems could be used to support a range of human analysis processes, including:
- Natural language processing and audiovisual analysis, such as machine translation, speaker identification, object recognition and video summarization.
- Filtering and triage of material gathered through bulk collection.
- Behavioural analytics to derive insights at the individual subject level.
RUSI’s study also notes that use of AI could give rise to additional privacy and human rights considerations which would need to be assessed within the existing legal and regulatory framework. For this reason, enhanced policy and guidance is needed to ensure the privacy and human rights implications of national security uses of AI are reviewed on an ongoing basis as new analysis methods are applied to data.