The Israel Defense Forces’ (IDF) operation against Hamas is called the world’s first artificial intelligence (AI) war.
“For the first time, artificial intelligence was a key component and power multiplier in fighting the enemy,” an IDF Intelligence Corps senior officer said. He said this is a first-of-its-kind campaign for the IDF.
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In 2020, an Iranian nuclear scientist was killed using a satellite controlled weapon. For the first time, a machine gun was controlled remotely using advanced cameras and AI.
AI is expected to reshape warfare in the coming years.
What Israel did
The IDF reportedly established an advanced AI platform that centralised all data on terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip onto a system that enabled the analysis and extraction of intelligence.
“Soldiers in Unit 8200, an Intelligence Corps elite unit, pioneered algorithms and code that led to several new programmes called “Alchemist,” “Gospel” and “Depth of Wisdom,” which were developed and used during the fighting,” said a news report.
“Gospel” used AI to generate recommendations for troops in the research division of Military Intelligence. “For the first time, a multidisciplinary centre was created that produces hundreds of targets relevant to developments in the fighting, allowing the military to continue to fight as long as it needs to with more and more new targets,” a senior officer said.
IDF Unit 9900’s satellites were used to detect changes in terrain in real-time automatically. For instance, the troops detected 14 rocket launchers located next to a school.
AI in Indian military
India has been taking significant steps towards deploying AI-based innovation in its combat and surveillance projects.
In 2018, the government entrusted NITI Aayog and the Ministry of Defence to create a roadmap for the Research and Development of AI applications in the armed forces. The NITI Aayog published a white paper, titled National Strategy for AI, and the task force, Strategic Implementation of AI for National Security and Defence, submitted its recommendations.
In the Defence Ministry’s Year-End Review of 2018, the Indian Navy said it had divided the AI Use Cases into short, medium and long term goals for implementation.
In 2019, the Ministry of Defence set up a high-level Defence AI Council (DAIC) to offer strategic direction to adopt AI in defence. DAIC guides partnership between government and the industry for deployment of such innovations.
AI in military systems worldwide
The global military expenditure was estimated at $1917 billion in 2019, a 3.6% spike compared to 2018, according to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) report.
Many countries have special departments or agencies that plan, initiate, and integrate AI capabilities into the existing equipment and develop new capabilities. The National Science and Technology Council in the US, the Strategic Council for AI Technologies in Japan, and the AI Council in the UK are a few examples.
The US Department of Defence spent $7.4 billion on artificial intelligence, Big Data, and cloud in 2017. Its Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is financing the development of a robotic submarine system to be employed in applications such as detection of underwater mines and engagement in anti-submarine operations.
The UK government is also undertaking similar projects as part of its Research & Development Roadmap of July 2020. According to a news report, UK’s Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) is working closely with the Institute for Security Science and Technology at Imperial’s White City Campus to bring together government, academia, industry, and small & medium-sized enterprises to develop the next generation of solutions for security and defence problems.
Russia is also reportedly investing heavily in AI for detection and debunking misinformation in defence. China is also enhancing its defence capabilities by developing and deploying Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs), AI-enabled satellites, Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUVs) and unmanned ground warfare platforms.
In 2017, China’s State Council announced the three stages for developing AI
- Establishing a competitive advantage in the field of AI
- Generating the development of new industries
- Augmenting and strengthening national security
Additionally, its current five-year plan establishes the roadmap for R&D, investment and integration of AI with other technical areas. AI ranks 6th out of the 69 priority tasks for the Chinese government.