🪢 Inside the loop
AI may launch a race no-one can afford to lose
Hi, Azeem here.
I’m doing some work exploring the nature of complex risks in Dubai next week. As part of that work, I wrote this short paper to explore one issue raised by the increasing use of artificial intelligence by firms and governments.
In this note, I ask what happens when AI-based systems are introduced into decision making processes? How does that impact peers and adversaries? And what responses might emerge?
Readers who lead businesses, governments and make strategic decisions will find it particularly relevant.
As always, happy to hear comments.
Inside the loop
Some 20 years ago, a British Challenger 2 tank was hit by more than 60 rocket-propelled grenades fired by opposition forces. The crew was unharmed, and the vehicle remained operational. Tanks have been the greatest battlefield survivors, impervious (or at least insouciant) towards many weapons that prise open other vehicles.
Yet on the battlefields of Ukraine today, the tank’s survivability has dropped to some ten minutes. The cause? Better information. The skies at the front are peppered with buzzing drones scanning every inch of terrain. Whereas previously a tank could hide in the fog of war, now the drone peers through it, spotting its target within seconds. The UAVs transmit the information of the opposing vehicle’s location instantly, directing lethal artillery fire on them. Mechanised forces find their opponents are inside their decision loop, able to observe, orient and act, quicker that they can evade and respond1.
When your adversary gets inside your decision loop, meaning, they can make strategic decisions faster and act on them faster than you can, your options become decreasingly palatable.
This isn’t just about warfare. It is about strategy — for firms, industries, and nations. All strategic choices are based on the ability to make good decisions on the information one has to hand and to adapt those decisions based on the effects one experiences.
Our decision loops have tightened. No longer is it 13 days for the British government to learn of the assassination of a US president, as it did on Lincoln’s death in 18652.