The question of national security is a vital concern for a growing economic power like India. If understood from the lens of realism in international politics, power dynamics are constantly shaping the relations between countries. Artificial intelligence in managing the dearth of human capital and resources could prove extremely useful in standing tall in the present reality of multipolar world. The necessity to adopt AI in the larger paradigm of national security will not only avert external dangers but also to ensure India’s advancement in accordance with new innovations in technology.
The article analyses the use of artificial intelligence in national security by identifying the arenas of defense sector, and ramifications of deploying such technology.
Challenges in National Security
AI task force appointed under the ministry of commerce has identified cost, technology availability and systems management capability deficit as biggest challenges for India’s national security. In another report by Asia and Pacific Policy Forum, it has been argued that India’s defense suffers from a lack of a sizable domestic defense industry. The defense modernization is not up to mark as the armed forces was unable to meet its requirements of military equipment especially when compared with global standards. Although self-reliance in defense has been a focus, however, India’s dependence on foreign hardware has been a major hurdle since the 1990s. This triggered a need to privatize the defense industry such that there was a push towards international cooperation driven mainly by the need to access high technology weapon systems. Therefore, in 2001, India opened up the defense sector to foreign direct investment. However, the reforms were marred by other inaccuracies such as bureaucracy’s distrust of the private sector, ambiguous FDI guidelines, and insufficient incentives dissuading foreign companies from investing. Another mounting challenge is India’s aging military equipment, and negligible expertise on defense. At the same time, developing the defense sector and armed forces also entails developing institutions and personnel capable of managing resources and generating strategic thinking. All these concerns have contributed in deterring private investments and further accelerating personnel costs.
Arenas in defense to deploy AI
According to the Centre for Internet society, “defense is the one sector where clear use of autonomous systems is being contemplated”. CIS’s working paper on AI and governance has identified following sectors for AI and defense:
- Intelligence, Surveillance and reconnaissance: The Indian army has begun using unmanned autonomous vehicles for reconnaissance purposes performing different functions like detecting naval mines in littoral waters, and conducting surveillance on territorial waters to keep an eye on adversaries. A good example in this regard is Rustom-2 performing both aerial and reconnaissance and surveillance. Similarly Crone systems, a New Delhi based startup is working on evaluating seasonal data for border infiltration patterns which can ascertain the possibility of border infiltrations. Innefu labs is working in association with Border Security Force and Central Police Reserve Force will track the social media posts to gauge location and time of agitations so that appropriate personnel may be deployed.
- Robot soldiers: Centre for Artificial intelligence and robotics is a laboratory linked with DRDO galvanizing multi-layered AI-powered architecture to develop an array of robots that can collaborate and function as a team like human soldiers.
- Cyber Defense: AI is also being utilized for building and strengthening cyber security capabilities. For instance, CDAC in collaboration with IIT Patna has developed cyber forensic tools that can be leveraged by the government, law enforcement and intelligence agencies. Furthermore, Indian government has come in alliance with Innefu labs to analyze data obtained from intelligence agencies for evaluating threat patterns and predicting future outcomes for their recent innovation known as Prophecy.
- Risk Terrain Analysis/GIS: According to DRDO, the applications of AI in risk-terrain analysis include military geospatial information system which generates traffic ability maps vis-a-vis soil, slope, moisture, land use and landform. Another invention in this field is that of terrain feature extraction system enabling determination of land use classification, terrain reasoner system analyzing alternative routes for the accomplishment of pre specified mission, and terrain matching systems these are support systems that integrates complex case-based reasoning into one concrete whole.
- Intelligent Weapons system: The testing of Pilotless Target Aircraft (PTA) Lakshya-II by DRDO in 2018 has become India’s first ‘armed drone’. In this manner, army is already on its way of modernizing its weaponry system with the help of AI.
In a similar vein, AI task force has selected autonomous surveillance and combat systems, adaptive communications systems, AI based cyber attack mitigation and counter-attack systems and multi-sensor data fusion based decision making systems.
The ramifications of having AI based defense will involve coming together of military and private players to collaborate and exchange their expertise on the same. At the same time, the modernization of technology will have an impact on internal dynamics of the country by stimulating the demand for institutions and personnel that can comprehend and implement the use of such technology.
This piece is written by Anuttama Banerji. Anuttama is Associate Researcher at Govern.