Artificial Intelligence in the Indian Defence Sector

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Killer robots and machines that haunt down and terminate humans have caught the public imagination in science fiction, cyberpunk, and dystopian genres for generations. We are still far away from a terminator roaming the streets. Nevertheless, the sci-fi of the past is starting to become today’s reality, from increasingly autonomous drones to intelligent malware attacks on various parts of the world. Artificial intelligence is becoming a key weapon in the arsenal of 21st-century warfare. 

Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and autonomous systems are all different. However, these systems do the same thing- mimic some aspects of human intelligence. They give machines the ability to think in a limited way and allow them to work on problems usually reserved for human beings. It includes but is not limited to recognition patterns, data analysis, and decision-making. These tools are not new to the world. Various MNCs like Amazon, Google and others are already using these for commercial purposes to satisfy customers’ needs. 

Artificial intelligence enables machines to acquire and replicate the human brain’s abilities.

Artificial intelligence is also transforming the defence sectors in many similar ways. The accuracy and precision of the current weapons are turning today’s battlefields empty of human combatants. AI, a tool that allows the same amount of people to do and achieve more, acts as a force multiplier. Defence experts, research groups, and powerful global political leaders are all fighting for the pervasiveness of artificial intelligence in the defence sector. Both Russia and Ukraine are reportedly using AI in their ongoing wars. Additionally, the US Department of Defence has announced that it will use AI and machine learning tools to study Russia’s war tactics in Ukraine.

Artificial Intelligence and India’s Defence Sector

Amidst the global rise in the development of weapons and surveillance systems powered by artificial intelligence, after Russia, China, and the United States, India has also decided to introduce AI in its defence forces to enhance their operational preparedness. This project would be implemented in partnership between the armed forces and the private sector.

The first ever AI in Defence (AIDef) symposium and exhibition was organized on July 11, 2022, by the Department of Defence and Production, Ministry of Defence in New Delhi. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh launched newly developed AI product technologies with defence applications as part of the celebration marking the 75th anniversary of India’s independence.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh at the AI in Defence (AIDef) symposium and exhibition, July 11, 2022
Image courtesy-Twitter@rajnathsingh

The symposium included an autonomous weapon system, autonomous/unnamed/robotic system, blockchain automation, cyber security, human behaviour analysis, intelligent monitoring system, logistics and supply chain management, operational data analytics, manufacturing and maintenance simulators test equipment, and speech voice analysis using natural language processing are the some of the items. 

In light of this, India is taking some critical steps.

Driver fatigue Monitoring System

More than 300 soldiers die every year due to road accidents due to the pathetic condition of roads in regions like Kashmir. Thus, to tackle such challenging situations, AI could be made into use.

Roads in certain borders like the ones in Zojila pass are extremely dangerous and can be fatal even by a slight mistake from the driver.

One driver’s negligence may cost hundreds of soldiers’ lives. The Driver Fatigue Monitoring System can detect the driver’s eyes to check whether the driver is blinking or else his eyelids are open or not. AI-enabled cameras will continuously monitor all these and send the data to the Indian army base station, thus reducing the chances of accidents.

Facial Recognition for Security Application

Developed by Bharath Earth Movers Limited (BEML), this tool can identify whether a person on our border is our enemy or a friend. This not only has facial recognition technology but also can scan the person to see whether he/she is carrying a gun or not.

Facial recognition technology will be the most efficient tool for the Indian defence forces to identify enemies.
Robotics Surveillance Platform

Nations like Israel, and South Korea, are already using robots for their security purposes, especially for surveillance purposes. Similarly, the Indian army will use robots that work with artificial intelligence at the borders for our surveillance. 

Overall, all these intelligence equipment will be used in cyber security logistics, speech and voice recognition, surveillance, and data analytics, thereby strengthening the Indian defence sector. The government is fetching various avenues for developing AI not only for the local market but also from the foreign markets by using the Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) source. Thus we can see considerable hikes in the FDI in the defence sector. Moreover, the government is also engaging in bilateral agreements with various other countries, particularly with the United States, Russia, and Israel, in developing AI technology. 

“India will ultimately seek to ensure the effective use of artificial intelligence in combating conflict, which is becoming a critical operational imperative that could determine the outcome of future wars.” 

India is among six nations in a race for artificial intelligence. The government of India launched the “INDIAai” website to prepare the country to embrace artificial intelligence. 

Importance of Artificial Intelligence in Defence 

Northeast India has been prone to many ethical and insurgency-related issues since the independence and aftermath of reorganizations of states for advancement. The Centre has had issues like naxalism, insurgency, cross-border terrorism, and many other governance issues. To tackle these issues, the country requires advanced capability in the technology-progressing era. AI is useful in detecting cross-border terrorism, separatism, and other issues. 

Using artificial intelligence, India can enhance security at the disputed borders.
Image courtesy-Indian Defence Review

Furthermore, AI can be an asset in detecting innumerable fake news sent through mediums like email, WhatsApp, Facebook, and Twitter. 

Moreover, the country needs to experience new societal trends in this advanced world. Analyzing and using artificial intelligence will expose the defence personnel to detect advanced threats to the nation in the future. 

Advantages of AI in Defence

  • Improved surveillance in border areas: 

Geographically, India shares borders with Pakistan, China, Bangladesh, and Myanmar. The border areas are prone to many security issues, such as terrorism, human trafficking, infiltration, drugs, etc. The robotic surveillance capabilities enhance India’s surveillance measures in the border areas. 

  • Reducing logistics burden in the long term:

Using artificial intelligence, the authorities can calculate the manpower as well as the deployment of ammunition in the areas in time of need. This is an effective planning tool to reduce expenditure. AI is used not only for defence capabilities but also as a tool for financial regulations in the defence sectors. 

Along with human resources AI can be an effective and powerful measure to strengthen the Indian armed forces.

The future progress of artificial intelligence has the potential to have a transformative impact on national security. It can destroy enemy establishments without human control and efficiently handle large amounts of data. It also proved to be very helpful in training the soldiers. 

Conclusion

Increasing interest in manufacturing and using AI equipment will undoubtedly help India become self-reliant in the AI sector. However, many questions remain unanswered. Are there definite rules to ensure that AI-powered machines achieve only set goals? Absolutely not. Human intelligence is no substitute for AI. They can only imitate humans. Unlike humans, AI-based machines lack emotion and intuition and do not think strategically, assess situations, and make decisions accordingly.

You may also be interested in:

Cyberspace: An Emerging Security Issue in Global Politics

About the Author

Anwar Shahid P M

Anwar Shahid is an Academic professional in International Relations and Political Science with a broad knowledge of Research and Analytical Skills. He is currently working as an Assistant Professor in Political Science at Beja Model College of Arts and Science, Nettanige, Kasaragod, Kerala. He has keen interest in the areas of International Cyber Security, Contemporary International Politics, Foreign Affairs, Diplomacy and Indian Politics.

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