OAN’s Brooke Mallory
2:17 PM – Tuesday, July 25, 2023
The Senate is now urging the Pentagon to build artificial intelligence (AI)-powered “wearable” neural sensors that could convey data to commanders about the physical and mental state of soldiers in the field.
This month, the Senate Armed Services Committee issued its annual military policy bill, which was accompanied by a report stating that senators from both parties wanted the Pentagon to move more quickly to provide this piece of AI technology to potentially hundreds of thousands of U.S. soldiers.
“The committee encourages the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering to accelerate funding for the development of dual-purpose wearable neural biosensor technologies via the National Network for Microelectronics Research and Development to support broader transition to the services,” the committee said in its report on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
According to the report, an Army office that establishes standards for field troops and a joint agency that works with a variety of defense technologies are designing the types of biometric data that these sensors should highlight.
The Pentagon declined to offer the press an estimated completion date for this study, however, they did detail how an AI review of data acquired by these sensors may assist commanders in making military decisions.
“Wearable systems gather real-time data from warfighters that can give them and their commanders information on important predictors of performance such as fatigue, dehydration, nutritional status, heat stress, illness, or possible exposure to harmful chemicals or biological organisms,” said a Defense Department spokesperson.
According to the Senate study, AI-powered sensors could be utilized to track such data across various defense units, including security personnel, aviators, and unmanned system pilots. Senators predicted that this kind of technology will eventually be used to track and evaluate data on “500,000 warfighters.”
The Senate’s effort to deploy AI technology comes as some members of Congress continue to explore methods to make these systems both safe and effective. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) stated that he wants senators to consult with more experts in the fall before introducing any additional AI-related legislation.
President Joe Biden recently stated that seven AI developers have agreed to standards aimed at developing AI systems that are “safe, secure, and trustworthy.”
Legislators are also under pressure to guarantee that the United States begins using AI systems to stay on top of China and other military rivals. The House-passed National Defense Authorization Act, for example, urges the Navy to include AI into its logistics strategy, pushes the Army to create autonomous combat vehicles, and directs the whole department to investigate how AI may be used to strengthen America’s national security.
So far, the Pentagon has demonstrated that it will not need much of a push to embrace this new technology. In January, the Army offered a contract opportunity for a business to investigate a variety of automated jobs using AI and machine learning, as well as another contract for companies producing wearable radiation sensors.
“Trusted AI and autonomy technologies could help the Army streamline several tactical processes… We need to make sure soldiers have the most advanced technological and strategic capabilities,” said Dr. Matt Willis, director of Army prize competitions in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology.
The Army’s enhanced soldier program manager, Stephanie Brown, stated in June that AI and machine learning are currently being used to collect and utilize a wide range of data regarding the battlefield and the troops themselves.
“The Army needs technology to sense everything about the battlefield, including the soldiers themselves, in real time,” Brown said. “In parallel to sensing, we need to develop AI/ML algorithms to help understand the data being sensed.”
“In general, this may allow us to reduce risk and injury to our soldiers and protect our people… For example, some of the wearable sensors could provide health monitoring and casualty care, to include triage information to assist medics with injury identification, classification, and treatment,” she continued.
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