Decent Tech Supports National Security Without Blood or Bullets


Nineteen years ago today, extremists carried out a horrific act of terror. The attack on the World Trade Center buildings marked both a defining for the Millennial generation and a turning point in America’s national security policy. It was the dawning of the age of trustlessness, a time in which outsiders are treated as enemies and facts are subjective. This is a sad state, but there is reason for hope.

Decentralized technology (“decent tech”) in the hands of decent people can and will save our planet, but the potential for this Earth-shattering technology doesn’t end with environmental applications. In fact, we can use decent tech to help us secure our borders without firing a single bullet or spilling a drop of blood.

Things Don’t Have to Stay the Way They Are

These are uncertain (and for many, unhappy) times. Diseases and violence are everywhere. Our political and economic systems are failing us. The humanitarian crisis on America’s southern border is impacting peoples’ lives in a way that will echo for generations. These are all terrible circumstances, but things don’t have to stay as they are.

Our leaders have failed to keep us safe, sure. Our economy is limping through yet another recession, yet. America’s international reputation for the protection of human rights is being replaced by a legacy of oppression. But fortunately, we can leverage the power of decent tech to leave this all behind.

Technology-Assisted Non-Violence 

There has been an ongoing movement to create more informed, deliberate, and coordinated approaches to using technology for national security. There is a mutual understanding that developing more advanced and sophisticated software will also provide for efficient and effective nonviolent partnerships.

Multiple sectors working together to share technology and knowledge is can be the foundation of nonviolent national security measures. The ultimate goals of technology in national security revolve around:

  • Preserving the United States’ technological leadership,
  • Supporting the peaceful use of technology, and
  • Managing catastrophic risk.

Indeed, as technology advances, as does the United States national security. Technology-assisted military tools can lead to new strategies towards the developments of voluntary restraint and nonviolent conflict resolution. But what is decentralized technology actually being used for in the military and other systems supporting national defense?

Why Does the Military Use AI?

AI has been used in national security since at least WWII. Today, AI is a component of key systems within our national security infrastructure and it has become a driving force in military, information, and economic superiority. Artificially intelligent computers run data collection, analysis, and strategic creation. For the military, this means more national security resources can be can be collected and better information can be deciphered from it. This is just the type of thing that people can’t be trusted with.

 Two big motivating factors in the integration of AI technology into national security is to preserve the United States leadership in technology and mitigating any catastrophic risks. All nations develop AI for a variety of military functions, and most are not weapon related. AI is being woven into fields of intelligence collection, analysis, logistics, cyber operations, information operations, command and control, and in semi-autonomous and autonomous vehicles, aircrafts, and ships.

What Can AI Do for National Security?

AI and other decentralized technologies have facilitated the building of America’s national security both domestically and globally. This is just as true in our defense against terrorism as it is in our approaches to securing our borders.

 AI provides the United States with significant potential for more thorough and thoughtful national security. Machine learning has already enabled automation in processes ranging from virtual activism and advocacy for key defense policies to labor-intensive and technical activities, like capturing and assessing satellite image analysis in aerospace, cyber defense across communication lines, and nuclear control systems and regulators. With every new AI development, however, comes more advanced strategies, organization, priorities, and a reallocation of resources of all types.

Regardless of the particular applications, this much is for sure: America will use technology to expand its military force across the world. But it is one thing to ask AI to conduct facial recognition to deter crime in a busy city, and another thing altogether to command it to kill people on the battlefield based on this same assessment. The great potential for mistakes, hacking, and for other detrimental malfunctions make using AI for war an extremely risky activity.

Decent Tech Demands Decent Leadership

Technology is two-faced – it can lead facilitating virtual activism and virtual advocacy, autonomous operations, more informed decision-making, and increase the speed and scale of actions. At the same time, however, it can also be unpredictable, create vulnerabilities, and be easily manipulated. This fact alone fosters competition for innovative technology applications in the world of national security and defense. But thoughtful and purposeful applications of technology designed for warfare can prove useful and tactful without any actual threat of force.

Just as any tool, technology can be used as a weapon; whether tech tools help or hurt depends upon the intentions of the humans who are controlling the AI that’s managing more and more of our national security every day. We know too little about AI to justify asking it to use its robotic discretion to fight wars for us – but who are the people making these decisions?

Tech innovators have built platforms to increase participation and the ability to pool resources together. This has helped to raise the level of overall participation by spreading information fast and is useful for mobilizing large groups people quickly. As such, decent tech unites people and causes across the world. People are better able to share goals, methods, and communicate to and among leaders. But in truth, policymakers and civic activists aren’t always informed about the risks associated with new technologies or know how to account for security threats appropriately.

Despite this lack of knowledge, Congressional policymakers are the ones who have the power to influence the direction of decent tech for world peace. Through our collective virtual activism, we can dictate how it decent tech actually implemented in our border security and national defense systems. That way, we can instruct our leaders to use this powerful technology in more decent ways.

Protecting Ourselves Peacefully

As we mark the anniversary of an act of violence that scarred the hearts and souls of an entire generation, I hope that we all take a moment to reflect upon the self-perpetuating nature of violent acts. The more war, hatred, and oppression that we introduce in the world, the more violence springs up all around us. But as we well now, things don’t have to stay the way they are.

 As technology spreads throughout local communities around the world, so does power. Placed in the hands of people who will use it for good, this increasingly decentralized technology can change the world. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are growing into an integral part of modern society, and they are already finding applications in national security and defense. Moving forward, let’s work to ensure that technology is used as effectively to assist in nonviolent civic activism and the establishment of world peace.

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