Using AI for national security decision making vital but risky, report warns

This AI tool can predict the date and time of your death. (Unsplash)
This AI tool can predict the date and time of your death. (Unsplash)

Artificial intelligence (AI) could pose a risk to national security but “must be viewed as a valuable tool” for decision-making, a Government commissioned report has warned.

A report from the Alan Turing Institute (ATI) said AI can be transformative and is a valuable tool to senior officials in Government, but flagged it could potentially exacerbate “dimensions of uncertainty”, such as inaccuracies.

Use of AI requires continuous “monitoring and evaluation”, the report said. This requires both human intervention and AI recommendations to counteracts biases. As AI is based on probabilities and makes data-based forecasts, there remains significant room for errors.

Dr Alexander Babuta, director of The Alan Turing Institute’s Centre for Emerging Technology and Security, said: “Our research has found that AI is a critical tool for the intelligence analysis and assessment community.

“But it also introduces new dimensions of uncertainty, which must be effectively communicated to those making high-stakes decisions based on AI-enriched insights.

“As the national institute for AI, we will continue to support the UK intelligence community with independent, evidence-based research, to maximise the many opportunities that AI offers to help keep the country safe.”

Choosing not to use AI can brings its own issues, as patterns and trends which it helps to identify can subsequently be missed, the report warned.

The report suggested additional training and guidance for strategic decision-makers to help them understand the new uncertainties introduced by AI - or upskilling intelligence analysts.

This would also involve upskilling director generals, permanent secretaries, ministers, and their staff to build trust in the new technology.

ATI’s report was commissioned by the Joint Intelligence Organisation and Government Communication Headquarters and authored by the independent Centre for Emerging Technology and Security.

It comes as the Government recently begun similar work with the Generative AI Framework, which provides guidance for those working in Government on using generative AI safely and securely.

Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden said: “We are already taking decisive action to ensure we harness AI safely and effectively, including hosting the inaugural AI Safety Summit and the recent signing of our AI Compact at the Summit for Democracy in South Korea.

“We will carefully consider the findings of this report to inform national security decision makers to make the best use of AI in their work protecting the country.”