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The future of warfighting will include conflicts on many fronts; highly consequential wars could be fought without any traditional engagement. For example, the Chinese government has embraced and implemented a concept called the “three warfares:” psychological warfare, media warfare, and legal warfare. This approach could be the roadmap for how day-to-day conflicts are fought in the future, thanks to the nefarious and widespread use of AI for unethical purposes.

AI has made spreading disinformation easier and faster than ever before. This is particularly true on social media platforms, where AI systems can create profiles and posts that appear to be from real people. Disinformation campaigns often have two goals: creating chaos and confusion and negatively affecting the will of the opposition. Such efforts share a common trait with most legitimate AI use cases: speed of deployment. Unfortunately, advances in AI have enabled bad actors to spread disinformation more easily and sow chaos before the forces under attack can adequately react.

However, systems that react and respond just as fast are already being developed and deployed to the field. For democratic nations, the ultimate challenge in the age of information warfare and media manipulation will be disabling disinformation campaigns before they launch, with the goal of maintaining democratic institutions around the globe.

A key challenge when developing AI to fight disinformation is the quality and sheer quantity of data needed to train machine-learning (ML) models. This necessitates a long training process, possibly longer than stakeholders can afford, and should include testing and validation phases to ensure confidence that the models recognize threats and accurately identify disinformation once deployed. 

While those sowing the disinformation currently have the speed advantage, a robust data-driven approach over time will return significant dividends: widespread confidence in the robustness and reliability of models performing effectively on the front lines of the information war.

Read more about Information Warfare in our 2023 AI Hot Button Report.