• People's Liberation Army in Training

People's Liberation Army in Training (Photo : Getty Images)

As China may have first seen the start of the Information Technology Revolution in military affairs, the People's Liberation Army could have the advantage to make use of the military applications of artificial intelligence (AI) to warfare.

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During the first Gulf War, the U.S. demonstrated its superior capability in the network-centric warfare, which made the PLA realized its own deficiency in information technology, according to an article by nationalinterest.org.

Eventually, the PLA pursued its own goal of "informatization", as it has now equipped itself with advanced capability to use information to strengthen its combat ability.

The PLA is now anticipating the start of the so-called "intelligentization Revolution in Military Affairs," which is expected to transform warfare.

Now, the PLA is planning to make use of artificial intelligence to surpass the U.S. in technological innovation in the next China-U.S. arms race.

PLA's "intelligentization" is the product of years of "informatization" efforts, which began in the 1990s, the report said.

The report added that the PLA is now set on establishing the "system of systems" operations to make it capable of integrated joint operations. The shift to this approach was reflected in the recent restructuring of the PLA's Informatization Department.

Maj. Gen. Wang Kebin, director of the former General Staff Department Informatization Department, said that the "information revolution" in the PLA is undergoing three stages: first, "digitalization," then "networkization" and now "intelligentization."

The Chinese army has also introduced information technology into its platforms and systems, and succeeded in integrating it into its C$ISR capabilities, as it aims to merge it into all services, theater commands and other warfare domains.

The final stage of this modernization plan would include the use of emerging technologies such as big data, cloud computing, mobile network use, the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence.

The PLA believes that the AI race will replace information technology as the dominant technology that will be developed by both Chinese and U.S. military in modern warfare. A greater reliance on artificial intelligence will be determined by the "intelligentization" of military systems.