Artificial Intelligence in Defence and Security Sector
The term Artificial Intelligence (AI) was coined by John McCarthy in 1956. AI is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as “the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.” According to techopedia.com, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is an area of computer science that emphasizes the creation of intelligent machines that work and react like humans.
AI is increasingly being used in the defence sector to boost the military capabilities in many developing nations of the world. In a December 2019 strategic research paper entitled, “A Candle in the Dark: US National Security Strategy for Artificial Intelligence”, Stephen Rodriguez and Tate Nurkin shed more light on this aspect. The forward written by Ashton B Carter, Former US Secretary of Defence, mentions that the strategy paper articulates the current technological landscape and offers a coherent strategic framework for the United States and its allies to harness AI’s upside potential, while mitigating downside risks and defending against emerging threats.
The paper states that “American AI development will take place within a complex, competitive, and challenging strategic geopolitical and security context that will both shape and be shaped by how the United States, China, and other actors, develop, diffuse, and deploy various AI technologies and the capabilities they enable”.
The paper states that the “four forces are particularly relevant to the intersection between the capacity of state and non-state actors to harness AI, with an impact on US national security”. They are:
1) Fractured Frameworks and Enhanced Competition – This includes the US-China geostrategic competition and Technology development and acquisition-especially in AI-as a critical part of this expanding competition. 2) Conflict between liberalism and authoritarianism; 3) The Information and Fourth Industrial Revolutions – AI and 4IR technologies are shaping the future of military capabilities and potentially changing the nature of conflict and warfare altogether.
Over time, they could remove important human components to combat and introduce new norms, operational concepts, and domain areas for competition; 4) Diffusion of the Power to Disrupt – This diffusion is happening simultaneously through licit and surreptitious means, ranging from mergers and acquisitions and joint ventures to cybertheft, traditional espionage, and the use of non-traditional collectors.
The paper then argues that the strategic context facing defence and security communities is characterised by the “fusion” of four previously mostly separate concepts or conditions: peace and conflict, physical and digital worlds, reality and perception, and defence/security within commercial/consumer priorities. The intersection of these concepts has created a strategic and operational environment conspicuously vulnerable to exploitation by the employment of AI-driven disinformation, distortion, and disruption campaigns.
The Fusion of States of Peace and Conflict has resulted in the formulation of strategic and operational doctrines around it by major global military powers. The Fusion of the Physical and Digital has resulted in Military and security communities experimenting with ways to incorporate novel 4IR technologies and AI applications that link the humans and machines to improve decision-making, physical endurance, and performance.
The Fusion of Reality and Perception implies that, will exploit the degradation of the truth to create and intensify divisive polarities and also offer sufficient justification for the instinct to retrench, to double down on interpretation and perspective in the face of established-but still debated-facts.
The Fusion of Security and Commercial Demand and Interests implies that the intersection of the 4IR and geopolitical competition is merging technology demands of national security communities and the high-tech industry and other commercial entities.