A 2017 US Department of Defense study of the future operating environment has described artificial intelligence as the most disruptive technology of our time. The potential applications of artificial intelligence, and the deep learning capabilities it brings, may be one of the most profound artifacts of the fourth industrial revolution. Indeed, for the first time in two centuries, informed and experienced experts such as Secretary James Mattis and former Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work are questioning whether AI will result in changes in not just the character, but also the nature of war. This highlights how disruptive this technology may be for society, commerce, as well as human competition and conflict.

As a recent Belfer Center report finds, it is vital for non-technologists to be conversant in the basics of AI and machine learning. The aim is to develop a baseline literacy in AI among more military and national security leaders to supplement the expertise of the few technical experts and contractors who design algorithms. This will permit a wider institutional capacity to develop new operating concepts underpinned by human-AI teaming, but also to effect quality control and address the risks of misbehaving algorithms. The military needs an institutional reservoir of generalists who understand the use of AI, and who appreciate how human and AI collaboration can be applied most effectively at each level of command.

To this end, I have assembled some resources that I have found useful as I have developed my knowledge of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and the application of these technologies. It is by no means comprehensive, and there will be many War Books readers who can add to the list. I trust this reading list will be a good start, however, in building knowledge about AI among generalist military personnel.


Yuval Harari, Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow (2015)

Max Tegmark, Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence (2017)

Nick Bostrom, Superintelligence (2014)

Paul Scharre, Army of None (2018)


Ben Buchanan and Taylor Miller, Machine Learning for Policymakers (Belfer Center, 2017)

Elsa Kania, Battlefield Singularity: Artificial Intelligence, Military Revolution, and China’s Future Military Power (CNAS, 2017)

Andrew Ilachinski, AI, Robots and Swarms (CNA, 2017)

Osonde A. Osaba and William Welser IV, An Intelligence in our Image: The Risks of Bias and Errors in Artificial Intelligence (RAND, 2017)

US GAO, Artificial Intelligence: Emerging Opportunities, Challenges, and Implications (2018)

Websites, Blogs & Podcasts

Battlefield Singularity (Elsa Kania)

Artificial Intelligence and Global Security Initiative (CNAS)

Intelligent Machines (MIT Technology Review)

AI with AI podcast (CNA)

Twitter Feeds







Major General Mick Ryan is the commander of the Australian Defence College in Canberra. A graduate of Johns Hopkins University,  the US Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and School of Advanced Warfare, he is a passionate advocate of professional military education and lifelong learning.

The views expressed herein are those of the author and not necessarily those of West Point, the Department of the Army, the Department of Defense, or any agency of the US government.