Cover: The Future of Indo-Pacific Information Warfare

The Future of Indo-Pacific Information Warfare

Challenges and Prospects from the Rise of AI

Published Mar 14, 2024

by Russell Hanson, Adam R. Grissom, Christopher A. Mouton

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Research Questions

  1. What are the implications of AI-powered information warfare in the Indo-Pacific for regional and global security?
  2. What are the appropriate strategies required for an effective near-term response and mitigation of the potential threats of AI-powered information warfare?
  3. What will the future of information warfare look like, and how can defense organizations and their partners adapt and respond to these evolving challenges?

As humanity increasingly embraces the digital age, artificial intelligence (AI) and its capabilities are having profound impacts on all facets of society, including information warfare. This impact is particularly relevant in the Indo-Pacific region, where the rise of AI-powered disinformation and malign information campaigns can pose significant challenges to national security and stability. The People's Republic of China (PRC), with its advanced AI technology and extensive information operations, is a significant factor shaping this dynamic landscape. In this report, the authors address the timely issue of AI-powered information warfare in the Indo-Pacific and its implications for regional and global security. Specifically, the authors delve into the appropriate strategies required for an effective near-term response and mitigation of the potential threats. By examining the PRC's tactics, the authors provide an exploration into the future of information warfare in the region and how defense organizations and their partners can adapt and respond to these evolving challenges.

Key Findings

  • The development of AI technologies, particularly advanced language models, has drastically expanded the scope of possible disinformation campaigns. These technologies could enhance China's ability to conduct information operations at an unprecedented scale and sophistication.
  • The information environment necessitates constant vigilance to detect and neutralize disinformation campaigns early. Advanced AI tools could be instrumental in this endeavor, helping to analyze, characterize, and visualize the constantly changing information environment.
  • Timely warnings can significantly dampen the effects of malign operations and are critical to combating them. Promoting true narratives and exposing falsehoods can help inoculate populations against disinformation, creating societal resilience that curbs the effect of repeated false information.
  • The efforts to counter disinformation should be multinational. Collaboration with partner nations is crucial not only to increase the effectiveness of these operations but also to create a combined front against malign activities. Local knowledge, trusted by local populations, forms a crucial part of this strategy.
  • As the landscape of information warfare evolves with technology and global geopolitics, future information operation strategies will need to be dynamic, collaborative, and proactive, combining vigilance, rapid response, and multinational cooperation to counter threats effectively.

The research described in this report was prepared for the Office of the Secretary of Defense and conducted within the Acquisition and Technology Policy Program of the RAND National Security Research Division (NSRD).

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