AI is rapidly changing how wars are fought. Winners of the AI arms race will become the world’s dominant military powers. Here’s what’s at stake.

Primer CEO Sean Gourley testified at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce AI Commission on July 21, 2022, about the global AI arms race — and what the U.S. and our allies need to do next. Below are his testimony notes. 

“The stakes are high, and the winner of this AI arms race will become the dominant military power in the world. It is a race that we cannot afford to lose.”

-Primer CEO Sean Gourley

Testimony by Primer CEO Sean Gourley 

Thank you Congressmen Ferguson and Delaney, members of the Commission. 

While there is a huge amount of discussion about the impact of AI on our society, the biggest impact that Artificial Intelligence (AI) will have in the next decade will be in warfare, where advanced AI will fundamentally change the way wars are fought. The impact of AI on warfare will be akin to that of nuclear weapons, where AI is a technology so powerful that the country that wields it will quickly defeat any opponent who does not.  

Artificial intelligence represents what is known as the “third offset,” a set of technological capabilities so advanced that it gives whoever wields them an advantage so large that the opponent without the technology is effectively defeated before a conflict even starts. 

“AI is a technology so powerful that the country that wields it will quickly defeat any opponent who does not.”

-Primer CEO Sean Gourley

The first offset was nuclear weapons, which ended the Second World War. The second offset was stealth weaponry and precision munitions, which resulted in the U.S. defeating the Iraq army — which at the time was the world’s 6th most powerful army — in less than 72 hours during the First Gulf War. The third offset is artificial intelligence. And it will have as profound an impact on warfare as any of the previous two offsets combined. 

This is not a hypothetical discussion about something that might happen in the future. Today, we are already seeing the impact of AI on the battlefield in Ukraine. From computer vision being used with commercial drones to identify camouflaged Russian vehicles, to AI that listens to radio communication and triangulates these with videos from social media to track Russian troop movement and intention in real time, through to AI being deployed in the information war to attempt to manipulate the narrative and win over the enemy population. 

These changes are happening rapidly. But Russia and Ukraine are not widely regarded as AI superpowers – it is China that we need to turn our attention to. 

We need to acknowledge that we are currently in an AI arms race with China. The stakes are high, and the winner of this AI arms race will become the dominant military power in the world. It is a race that we cannot afford to lose. 

The United States and its allies come into this arms race with a considerable set of advantages, but speed is going to determine the winner here — and China is moving fast.

To read more, download the full testimony here.

A case study of providing early warning and responses to potential risks

The challenge

Agenda, LLC a D.C.-based international boutique public affairs and strategic communications agency, regularly monitors news and social media to stay vigilant around several key areas of concern for their mission-driven clients which include NATO, USAID, UN Women, and private sector clients. Because the information environment has become so complex and challenging to monitor, having the right information and understanding the trajectory of narratives is critical in supporting communications strategies and decision making.

Part of Agenda’s advisory services requires monitoring open-source data feeds for potential risks to public perception and operational security issues. This is where Primer Command and Primer Analyze come in. The AI-powered solution enables Agenda to closely monitor news and social media and track narratives, allowing for early warning and providing time for Agenda and its clients to respond.

Before working with Primer, the Agenda team had been using several data mining tools for alerts and analytics, along with manual tasks in a workflow that was cumbersome and too time consuming to support effective issue and crisis management.

The solution

With Primer, Agenda has a holistic tool that provides a rich snapshot of unfolding events in real time. Primer helps separate signal from noise by surfacing key insights and following the trajectory of narratives in the information environment.

From one unified dashboard, Agenda’s research and client-facing teams can access a range of powerful capabilities to understand their clients’ operating environment, identify risks, plan remediating activities, and help protect their clients operational security. 

Primer Command is a versatile, real-time security and crisis management intelligence solution that enables us to monitor open-source data feeds for potential threats from adversaries and malign interests. We depend on Primer over all other platforms for early warning and to respond to potential risks to our clients’ operational security, business continuity, and brand reputations.

Doug Turner, CEO, Agenda, LLC

Select features

  • Custom queries monitor important topics in news and social media across 100 languages, including Chinese and Russian, translating content into English.
  • Custom alerts flag when key terms are mentioned.
  • Real-time feeds surface articles about executives, competitors, or other entities relevant to the query topic.
  • An interactive map plots key locations that are central to the news story.
  • Data volume trends indicate whether news coverage is heating up or cooling off.
  • Topic analysis surfaces the most popular themes, hashtags, and links being shared about the company, as well as disputed information.
  • Sentiment analysis shows trends in public attitudes.
  • Custom, human-quality situation reports automatically generate summaries of key news events within seconds.


 Agenda measures performance based on key data accuracy and time to generate reporting. Using Primer, the accuracy of monitoring and early warning has improved, and the time to present and act upon findings is reduced. Rather than spending hours monitoring news alerts, social media, and using multiple data mining tools, the Agenda team has more time to better serve their clients.
For more information about Primer Command, click here. And to learn more about Primer’s end-to-end NLP solution, click here. To access product demos, contact Primer here.

On the heels of the rapid departure of U.S. and allied troops from Afghanistan, Primer moved quickly to provide users in the intelligence and defense communities with free access to a new AI tool that uses open source data and social media to provide near-real time situational awareness of rapidly changing environments.

Primer Command is the first machine learning tool to perform natural language processing (NLP) and computer vision inferences in near-real time to continuously structure and analyze millions of pieces of content streaming in from more than 80,000 news and social media sources in more than 100 languages.

Primer’s algorithms extract key entities such as people and organizations, de-duplicate entities, cluster related images, and detect suspected disinformation. This enables users to summarize fast-breaking events, identify relevant novel information, and enable decision makers to assess options and tradeoffs – faster, easier, and with greater accuracy than ever before.

Primer Command was developed over the past year in partnership with the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Special Operations Command. We planned to launch the product later this year. However, the evolving situation in Afghanistan underscored the timely relevance of these capabilities for the intelligence community, so we accelerated the delivery of Primer Command into the hands of our users.

Now through the end of November, Primer users in the national security space can obtain free access to Primer Command.

Additionally, in the two weeks following the rapid withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, Primer built a new feature in Command called Tactical Insights to address the urgent need for on-the-ground information across the country. Tactical Insights leverages the full power of Primer’s machine learning library and natural language generation capabilities to automatically generate in-depth situation reports on Afghanistan at the country level and, importantly, for individual provinces.

By automatically reading, analyzing, and curating vast volumes of incoming and often conflicting news and information into concise, relevant situational reports, Primer Command arms users with the intelligence needed to make well-informed decisions in the face of shifting circumstances.

Supporting the national security mission has been a priority for Primer since our inception. We are confident Primer Command – with its top-performing named entity recognition engine as well as its geolocation and summarization capabilities – will fill a critical gap for our users who need to track and analyze rapidly changing situations such as those unfolding in Afghanistan.

Additional resources: