Dr Zafar Nawaz Jaspal
THE nations have invested in advancing their Artificial Intelligence prowess. They have been intelligently harnessing its advantages and struggling to avoid its drawbacks. In practice, Artificial Intelligence is an enabling technology, which can be used for improving national security environment and human development. Many nations have employed it for both defensive and offensive military operations. Therefore, distancing from the Artificial Intelligence in the current circumstances is not a rational choice. The Artificial Intelligence (AI) also called machine intelligence. It “is a branch of computer science dealing with the simulation of intelligent behaviour in computers”. It is the “the capability of a machine to imitate intelligent human behaviour.” In simple terms, AI is an intelligence exhibited by machines or software. Its technology is already built into devices we use in our every day lives. For example, ‘Siri’, an intelligent personal assistant that sits inside iPhones and iPads and is supported by AI developed by Apple.
The technologically advanced nations have struggled to reap AI benefits while avoiding potential pitfalls. On May 12, 2015, late Stephen Hawking, speaking at the Zeitgeist 2015 conference in London, said: “Computers will overtake humans with AI at some within the next 100 years. When that happens, we need to make sure the computers have goals aligned with ours.” He also warned, that ‘humans need to be aware of the risks associated with uncontrolled AI development.’ So the scientists and technologists carefully coordinate and communicate advancements in AI. They ought to make sure AI does not grow beyond humanity’s control. Currently, AI is contributing positively in the medical field and data collection and organization for theoretical research. The alarming cause is that militarily advanced nations have been determined to use AI for increasing the efficacy of their offensive strikes and defensive arrangements. It is very useful for improving the defensive deployments such as air-defence and anti-missile systems. AI enables national command authority for a real-time counter to the threat. However, it is not reliable to distinguish between decoys and real striking device. Despite it, military uses AI systems to generate novel methods of jamming and communications through self-play, akin to Alpha Go Zero improving its game by playing itself.
The security conscious nations have always appreciated innovations or advances in technologies for solidifying their defensive fences and strengthening their offensive punches. Historically speaking, the revolution in military affairs has been originated from revolution in military technology. Today, the militaries around the globe have incorporated more robotics and autonomous systems into their forces. AI and machine learning support these systems to tackle more challenging tasks in a wider range of environments. In combat operations, certainly, robots, swarms, and autonomous systems have potential to increase the pace of combat.
Although, it is a debatable subject that whether AI will bring a revolution in military affairs or it will remain an enabling technology in the conduct of war. The RMA “is a major change in the nature of warfare brought about by the creative application of new technologies which, combined with dramatic changes in military doctrine, operational and organizational concepts, fundamentally alters the character and conduct of military operations.” It seems AI may not brought RMA in the near future, because it is only contributing in deduction, real-time signal processing and response. Nevertheless, it has a potential to increase the lethality of the war by enhancing the precision of fire. Moreover, it could be used to power more advanced sensors, communications, and other key enablers to invent autonomous tanks, armored vehicles, etc. Artificial Intelligence could be very effective in the asymmetrical warfare. Both the stronger as well as the weaker parties could exploit it in their advantage. Because of the universal nature of AI technology, non-state groups, terrorists organizations and people are able to harness and use AI for improving and making effective their strike capability and propagating their malicious narrative to generate fear and chaos in the target society. It increases the ability of smaller units or a weaker party in asymmetrical warfare to create decisive results. Conversely, the states can use it for data collection and reprocessing to create a greater visibility in identifying the target and avoiding the collateral damage in combating the non-state actors.
Importantly, the technological opportunities enabled by AI can shape the future, but do not determine it. Nations, groups, and people have choices about how they employ and respond to various uses of AI. Presently, Pakistan national security is vulnerable to both internal and external challenges. It is imperative that Pakistani ruling elite adopts a national strategy to take advantage of the benefits of AI while mitigating its disruptive effects.
— The writer is Associate Professor, School of Politics and International Relations, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad.