Naval AI Application: Unmanned Submarines

AI is a massively growing field in this nation and abroad. There are a few fields this is not applicable to. The application itself varies in its level also from informational to the more integrated.

A recent full proposed integration involves submarines (https://taskandpurpose.com/china-submarine-artificial-intelligence/). The Chinese Academy of Sciences has begun research on fully unmanned autonomous underwater submarine designs. The design would incorporate a number of different missions to ensure a full pro forma functionality prior to the proof of concept (PoC) testing. The managing entity for the submarines would be the AI platform.

This is not a new application, but a nuance on this. There have been underwater vehicles for decades, which have been unmanned. These have been shown in the various television shows and documentaries with the small unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs). The nuance being researched however with the new application is the autonomous nature.

Although these sound splendid, the implementation is filled with issues. The users operating these small UUVs have not been notably the easiest to control. For a small UUV in the vast ocean, this is still a workable process. For a massive submarine carrying nuclear and conventional weapons, along with a nuclear or diesel engines fully loaded with fuel, controlling the submarine is significantly important requiring no errors.

The submarines also could, in theory, go rogue, travel where the code indicates is should, when the authorized travel plan is totally different, or fire its weapons, due to a glitch or lack of cybersecurity.

The security axiom of beginning to apply cybersecurity at the beginning of the project may not be applied, and this may be applied at the end or near the end of the project completion. This generally does not work out well. This would potentially allow for holes and vulnerabilities to exploit. This would create the opportunity for the submarine to be reverse engineered and operations taken over by the unauthorized parties. The submarine might also be intentionally destroyed or its weapons used. From this point, the issues would grow exponentially and quickly spiral out of hand.

The bottom line is the AI embedded into the systems have to be fully secured and tested prior to any PoC or testing. Any noted issues would need to be remediated and retested until cured. The safety of nations and the world is at stake with this issue.

About the Author - Charles Parker, II has been working in the info sec field for over a decade, performing pen tests, vulnerability assessments, consulting with small- to medium-sized businesses to mitigate and remediate their issues, and preparing IT and info sec policies and procedures. Mr. Parker’s background includes work in the banking, medical, automotive, and staffing industries.

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