The Use of Artificial Intelligence by the United States Navy: Case Study of a Failure

  • Stephen B. Sloane


This article analyzes an attempt to use computing technology, including AI, to improve the combat readiness of a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier. The method of introducing new technology, as well as the reaction of the organization to the use of the technology, is examined to discern the reasons for the rejection by the carrier's personnel of a technically sophisticated attempt to increase mission capability. This effort to make advanced computing technology, such as expert systems, an integral part of the organizational environment and, thereby, to significantly alter traditional decision-making methods failed for two reasons: (1) the innovation of having users, as opposed to the navy research and development bureaucracy, perform the development function was in conflict with navy operational requirements and routines and (2) the technology itself was either inappropriate or perceived by operational experts to be inappropriate for the tasks of the organization. Finally, this article suggests those obstacles that must be overcome to successfully introduce state-of-the-art computing technology into any organization.