Here's a big think brief to get your mind working:
Artificial intelligence is not made from scratch in a lab, rather, it's a bootstrap that leverages what has already been developed in the biological world. Existing, biological intelligence is first modeled and then replicated in hardware/software combos (as we see in the picture to the right, where the Ecole Polytechnique Federale De Lausanne has produced a model of the upper levels of a rat's brain). This process of development gets really interesting when we exceed the computational equivalence of different strata of biological intelligence within the confines of an inexpensive, standard commercial chip. We recently passed the level of intelligence seen with insects, and the knock-on effects have been a plethora of UAV (unmanned aerial vehicles) drones, robots (check out this clip of a robot that uses insect intelligence to walk), and intelligent software agents. It will get even more interesting we pass to a mammal's level of intelligence, for example the rat, over the next few years.Over the next decade, the growth rate of artificial intelligence will have the following impacts on warfare (there's LOTS more, but I'll leave that for my next book if I can find a way to make it financially worth while to write):
- Ubiquity. As the cost of an insects level of intelligence drops to a pittance (less than 5 years), it will make its way into almost every product imaginable. In a fashion similar to a queen bee, every person will own thousands of tiny workers that can do a myriad of tasks (many through the miracle of self-replication via software). For the Hamas guerrilla firing a low cost rocket into Israel, the cost of adding a guidance system that allows it to hit a specific window or electricity substation becomes trivial. For the RBN computer hacker, each "bot" in his swarm will be able to run rule sets that will make today's Storm network look trivially simple in comparison.
- Speed. The rate at which artificial intelligence will be made available to the average global consumer isn't a straight line. It's exponential (see Kurzweil's inset graph). This means that governments and corporations will quickly find that the delta between what is only possible in a lab and what is available in the mass market will shrink. In time, particularly for the government given its slow process of adoption, these organizations will find it's less about getting ahead of the technology curve, but rather keeping up. This lag will be exacerbated by the way in which tinkering networks of amateur inventors sprawl over the technology and apply these capabilities into new niches much faster than bigger organizations.
- Power. The improvement in the intelligence available to the individual will quickly reach a mammal's level (ie. rat) in a few years and human level equivalents by the end of the next decade. Shortly after that, as the cost of such capabilities reaches pennies, it's likely that vast majority (99.9999%) of intelligent users of the Internet will be some form artificial intelligence and not biological beings. The same level of saturation will be true for nearly every physical object we make, buy and sell. At that point, things will get really interesting.