Charles Glar, an expert in robotics, automation, and artificial intelligence, said the UK needs to quadruple its defence spending to have “any hope” of achieving its goal. He spoke after the UK’s most senior military commander, General Sir Nick Carter, claimed the UK’s Army could consist of 80,000 humans and 30,000 robots by the end of the decade.
But Mr Glar, who has helped develop spying robots and worked at America’s top secret Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency which develops new military technology, says the spending must be “radically ramped up” from its current £41.5bn a year to feasibly achieve this goal.
The AI expert, who now owns AI firm CYBUR, points out that the US military is still 15 years from having robot soldiers despite massively outspending the UK.
Last year it is thought to have spent at least £4bn on AI alone – compared with the UK’s far more modest £160m fund which then-defence secretary Gavin Williamson announced last December.
Exact spending figures on AI are not released by either country.
He said: “The UK would have to prioritise its AI military development by increasing the targeted budget well over four times its allocated budget to achieve this goal in less than a decade.
“l do not think the funding is sufficient at the moment to sustain these programmes. Given that General Sir Nick Carter is trying to secure funding for these programmes l would predict that even with the five year plan it still wouldn’t be enough to sustain this kind of operation over time.
“The US has definitely poured a lot of resources into their AI military programs and they still continue to do so.
“I think the UK government would have to prioritise AI military development a little bit more before it can become as robust as advertised.
“The United States has budgeted well over $675bn on defence spending this year. Out of that budget roughly over $4bn is dedicated to AI military development per year.
“The UK government also has doubts about the moral ramifications of AI defence development while the current US administration has embraced the AI arms race with little push back from Congress.
“Taking into account the current budget as well as sizable push back by the UK parliament members l do not see how General Sir Nick Carter will be able to achieve his projected goal in 10 years while also managing to do it quicker and with less support than the US government has.
“The US government would have a projected 15-year window to complete a similar project.
“It would be delusional to think they would have any hope of overtaking the US without spending being radically ramped up.”
Speaking at a Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph, Sir Nick also spoke about the risk of a third world war if current conflicts spiral out of control.
He said: “We’re living through a time when the world is a very uncertain and anxious place.
“And of course the dynamic of global competition is a feature of our lives as well.
“The real risk that we have with quite a lot of regional conflicts that we have at the moment is you could see escalation lead to miscalculation.”
He added: “An escalation means more people get involved, more weapons get involved and before you can contain it, it leads to the sides blowing in up into a full-blown war.”