In the early twenty-first century, the train of progress is again pulling out of the station – and this will probably be the last train ever to leave the station called Homo Sapiens. Those who miss this train will never get a second chance. In order to get a seat on it you need to understand twenty-first-century technology, and in particular the power of bio-technology and computer algorithms.
– Yuval Noah Harari
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is globally acknowledged as the most dramatic technological advancement of our age. AI has been evolving continuously and is an emerging concept whose practical implications in every walk of life have been a glaring reality and is expected to continue to have a diverse impact on most fields in both private and public sectors. Defence and security will be on the leading AI experimental and user fields. To what extent will defence and security be affected? Most believe it will be incremental in nature. The inception of AI as a discipline transpired in wartime research in various analytical areas such as cryptography, the calculation of ballistic firing tables for artillery and in the cruise missiles. The revised definition of Al terms it as “the study of mechanisms underlying intelligent behavior through the construction and evaluation of artifacts that attempt to enact those mechanisms.” Hence, it works as an artificial human brain which has an unbelievable artificial thinking power. AI researchers’ futuristic objectives for the advanced military needs are cognitive reasoning, learning, natural language processing, realization and the ability to move and manipulate military objects to fetch victories and dominate battlefields. The current COVID-19 pandemic, if it is finally ascertained to be a manmade biological weapon launched to fetch the belligerent’s military and economic goals, will manifest a lot of novel ideas and spams shown by Hollywood in the recent decades where AI was used for genetically disturbed dead humans as zombies and sky net program for the superiority of machines.
Public, Private and Corporate Uses of AI
The usage of AI applications will be from general to particular fields of human life. Its practice would be more prominent in developed countries and gradually trickle down to developing and underdeveloped parts of the world, much like other technologies. The impact of AI would be far-reaching, more rapid, significant and beneficial, as in the case of AI, humans are using thinking and live machines (artificially intelligent and software programmed). Indeed, the developing and underdeveloped world need much more focus and efforts to acquire AI on a fast track to compete with their adversaries in the defence and private sectors. Some of the fields where AI will have prominent role are defence/national security, business, finance, manufacturing, law, education, and healthcare sector. In the business sector, robotic process automation is being applied to highly repetitive tasks normally performed by individuals. Machine learning algorithms have been integrated into analytics and customer relationship management or CRM platforms to uncover information on how better it will serve the consumers. Chatbots have been incorporated into websites to provide immediate services to customers. Automation of job positions has also become important among academics and IT consultancies such as Gartner and Forrester. In the finance sector, AI applied in monetary applications collects the personal data and provides financial advice. Similarly, IBM’s Watson applied to the process of buying at home. In manufacturing and industrial processes incorporation of robots in the workflow is being evaluated and employed. In the law and legislative sector sifting through documents and libraries is often overwhelming for humans, however, now by automating this process it is a better use of time and a more efficient process. By examining the taxonomy and ontology associated with a database, startups are building question and answer computer assistants to sift through programmed-to-answer questions. In the education and academic sector, AI assists in automating grading, assessment of students and by adapting to their needs and enhancing the teaching and learning process at a fast pace. AI professionals can provide additional support to learners by ensuring supervision. In the medical sector, the foremost objective for AI is of improving patient satisfaction with the best healthcare facilities at reduced costs. Through AI better and faster diagnostic machines are being evaluated. These machines and systems will understand different languages and will maintain patient and other valuable data sources to form a valuable hypothesis, and diagnose diseases and prescribe medication more confidently. One of the best-known healthcare technologies is IBM’s Watson.
Conceptualization and Utilization of AI in the Defence Sector
The armed forces of the leading military powers recognize the qualitative edge of AI systems, which are likely to give to the soldiers of tomorrow who often “face problem of scale, complexity, pace and resilience that outpace unaided human decision making.” Whether for commanders faced with unconventional adversaries in high speed engagements; intelligence analysts faced with drawing the correct conclusions from petabytes of noisy data; or frontline soldiers; AI promises to augment analysis and decision-making capabilities and reaction times both, speed up learning, and improve their ability to act with discretion, accuracy, and care under uncertain and changing conditions. It is therefore little surprise that many of world’s leading militaries are actively running some of the major military applications where AI will prove its importance in the years to come and can be applicable in various paradigms.
From the perspective of AI’s role in cyber secure military system, the military systems are often vulnerable to cyber-attacks, which can direct to loss of classified military information. However, systems equipped with AI can surely protect networks, programs, computers and information from any kind of unauthorized access. In addition, AI-enabled web security systems can record the pattern of cyber-attacks and create counterattack means to tackle them. In military logistics and transport AI can play an important role. It also enables military fleets to easily detect abnormality and quickly predict component defaults. For target recognition AI can be used to enhance the accuracy in complex combat environments. Additionally, AI in target recognition system promotes the capacity of these systems to identify the position of their targets.
From the perspective of robotic ground platforms and robotic surgical system, AI can be assimilating both to give support to remote surgical support and evacuation. Under difficult situations, systems equipped with AI can manage soldiers’ medical histories and assist in multiple diagnoses. Simulation and training is a multidisciplinary field that pairs system engineering, software engineering, and computer science to construct computerized models that acquaint combatants with the various combat systems deployed during military operations. Threat monitoring and situation alertness rely on intelligence and surveillance activities. Unmanned systems used to carry out Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions can either be remotely operated or sent on a pre-defined route. Equipping these systems with AI assists defence persons in threat monitoring, thereby enhancing their situational awareness. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), also known as drones, with integrated AI can patrol border areas, identify potential threats, and transmit information about these threats to response teams. Using UAVs can thus strengthen the security of military bases and establishments, as well as increase the safety and efficacy of defence services persons in battle or at remote locations. The quadcopter is an unmanned surveillance and reconnaissance drone that is very efficient in stalking the enemies down, especially in the jagged mountainous areas.
Future Use of Al in Pakistan’s Defence Forces
Al has broadened the horizon of application for machines by providing artificial enlightenment to computers and analytical systems. Machines, as a result, are not only conducting tasks, they are also making decisions. Applications like practice tools for training troops, bioinformatics, data aggregation from nation-wide databases and the security options that Al technology offers can be optimized with these intelligent computers. It is due to these capabilities that technology offers, which are applied by scientists as Al in the defence sector to make up for the limitations that humans have. Some fields in which Al can be utilized are as under:
▪ Military Drones for Surveillance. The significance, efficacy, prominence and employment of military drones has increased manifold in the recent decades. The world has been witness to the fatality and harmful effects created by drones used by the U.S. and its allies in Iraq and Afghanistan in GWOT. Through the application of AI-based technology drones have become the most lethal weapon, especially to engage a hidden hostile target most accurately without using ground support methods. Other vital utilities include successfully channeling remote communication in a secure way, both video and audio, to ground troops and military bases in order to track hostile deployment and their movement along with searching for lost friendly forces, and reconnaissance/surveillance in remote terrains within the war zone.
▪ Combat Robotic Soldier in the Battlefield. AI has enhanced robotics technology and it can be deployed on land to assist soldiers in all variants of operations in the war zone. This smart, intelligent and high graded performance robotics can be used by national security authorities and are designed with operational and strategic objectives to offer efficient methods for achieving success in war zones. Rapid developments in the field of machine learning and evolution in robotics, bipedal humanoid robotics can jointly build the search and rescue battlefield missions. These robots are autonomous, flexible, adaptive, having self-repairing fault rectification system, all of which contributes to switch and competent initiation and execution of military decisions.
▪ AI Uses in Missile Technology. Emerging demand of precise missile systems’ striking capability has upraised the military forces’ awareness towards its striking and assault operations. However, in the future, the precise missiles strike is anticipated to represent a huge size military operation in various geographical areas. AI as a field of simulated intelligence is focused on supporting various fields, emphasizing on increased missile variants. AI is significantly used in improvement and upgradation of radar sites, target acquisition in warships and anti-ship missile precision strike against hostile vessels, along with target acquisition of armored and buried targets.
▪ Intelligence Aware Munitions System. Presently Afghanistan is a testing ground for many latest developed weapons and munitions systems, and ironically Hollywood continuously discloses many of such military developments through their releases. These sensors gather data and transmit targeted information based upon the target’s acoustic, signatures, seismic and magnetic modalities. Each sensor node will be able to provide signatures to estimate the target’s type, bearing and direction of movement. Such systems are capable of distinguishing among tanks, trucks and personnel carriers, vessels and send reports to the control point. It would use self-configuring and self-healing communication network. The system would also be able to determine the appropriate effects module to engage the target and the time at which it should activate for concentrated efficacy.
▪ AI and Air Power. As AI turned to be massively acceptable inside the decision-making cycle of real-time airborne frameworks, it necessitates examining likely variations that could be faced in the future while employing air power and its targets. The apparent variations that could take place in the future employment of air power is where AI can be playing a leading role. In the near future, within a decade, AI would be fully acknowledged into the ‘observe, orientate, resolve, and act’ loop in the air power’s application. These four major variations are likely to take place which includes human-machine integration, target recognition and directing, airspace management and combat search and rescue operations.
▪ AI Uses in Navy. From a critical perspective, examining the present business employment of AI, numerous possibilities for implementation to aid and upgrade naval forces and the marine corps are observed. Future autonomous weapons systems and combat technologies aside, the near-term applications of AI can make the navy and marine corps more responsive, flexible and deadly.
▪ Cyber Secure Web Portals. National security institutes have militarized the digital data on their web-based portals, where securing and protecting the stored statistics and sensitive data is obligatory. Cyber security policies and options based on AI rescue act as an obstacle against external and internal cyber threats like malware and brute forces faced by data centers and official institutional websites.
AI and Biological Weapon (COVID-19)
The current COVID-19 pandemic, if it is artificial and weaponized by global powers as a biological weapon and launched for military and economic goals, means that a new arena of AI based warfare has begun, where the significance of learning and research of bio-technology and computer algorithms is a must. Hollywood has been warning the world through its productions such as Resident Evil and the Terminator; one based on genetic research for biological weapons and other on a series of movies where the Skynet programme is fighting for the superiority of machines, both are seen as the manifestation of AI world.
Al is a significant and rewarding discipline whose employment is now of routine use in various fields like military, economics, engineering and medicine being built into many common home-based computer software applications and traditional strategy games. With the advent of AI, a new horizon is looming in the firmament regarding the future of armed forces. Armies are about to plunge into a great unknown of both risks and opportunities. It will be a failing force that does not recognize this reality and take appropriate actions to ensure that the advantages are captured, and the challenges addressed. The adage, ‘first in will be best dressed’ applies to the understanding and leveraging of AI. The developed nations’ armies are already making huge investments to incorporate AI in all the above mentioned factors, however, Pakistan’s defence forces and militaries of other developing countries require indigenous development of AI in various fields to become independent to avoid information and operational crunch at a critical stage of future battlefield and secure their technology.
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