Might Wargaming be Another Instance Where “Anything You Can Do, AI Can Do Better”?

Ellison, George orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-8914-6812 and Shepherd, Andrew (2024) Might Wargaming be Another Instance Where “Anything You Can Do, AI Can Do Better”? (Submitted)

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.20944/preprints202401.1311.v1


This article offers a pragmatic ‘epistemology of wargaming’ which views wargames as immersive ‘thought experiments’ in which the human players involved use their experiential, empirical, and theoretical knowledge – together with whatever cognitive models they are able to deploy, or develop anew – to generate a conceptual, operational understanding of the adversarial scenario in which they are immersed; and exploit this understanding to craft tactical decisions designed to optimise the likelihood they will achieve their strategic objectives. From this perspective, contemporary interest in the use of ‘AI’-enabled tools to augment the validity of wargaming outputs – where these outputs constitute the decisions players make and the insights such decisions reveal – might most purposefully focus on: the design and implementation of wargames (to strengthen the architecture these provide to support immersive decision-making); and the analysis of players’ decisions (to better understand the cognitive models these involve and reflect). While the focus we suggest might disappoint those keen to replace human players with (semi-) autonomous decision-making machines, as long as the principal objectives of wargaming are to assess and enhance the decision-making capabilities of human players and human personnel, ‘AI’-enabled applications can only ever play a supporting role (albeit a potentially invaluable one) in the design, presentation, implementation, and analysis of wargames. As Irving Berlin might have it: ‘AI’ might soon be able to do most things better than us, but it can never replace humans when only a human will do.

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