Sri Lanka Army

Defenders of the Nation

30th August 2018 17:00:25 Hours

Whither Artificial Intelligence? Asks Senior Fellow at IDSA in New Delhi

“Do not develop something just because ability exists. States have made conscious decisions about chemical and biological warfare. Still chemical industry and biotechnology industry are success stories. Artificial Intelligence (AI) can offer many worthy benefits to armed forces. Challenge is to find the correct ‘window’ for constructive use of technology”, so said Group Captain Ajey Lele (Retd), Senior Fellow, Institute for Defence Studies & Analyses (IDSA), New Delhi, presenting his views on the theme, ‘Artificial Intelligence and Autonomous Weapons’ during the Session 2 under the technological disruptions on Thursday (30) afternoon at the BMICH ‘Colombo Defence Seminar - 2018’.

During his presentation he traced the history to the birth of AI and how it expanded over the years. “John McCarthy is known as the father of AI. He coined this term in (1955 -1956) AI at Dartmouth Conference. AI is that activity devoted to making machines intelligent, and intelligence is that quality that enables an entity to function appropriately and with foresight in its environment”.

He also gave examples to this AI operations and how products recommended on online shopping sites’ mail automatically going to the spam box, start listening to music on Youtube, and there will be a listening to recommendations on the other side.

At present AI is finding increasing applicability in both civilian and military domains and emerged more as an umbrella term encompassing Intelligent Robotics, Ambient Intelligence, Machine Automation, Autonomous Agents, Reactive & Hybrid Behaviour-based Systems and Big & Small Data.

Present day robotics possess own decision-making capabilities: Voice-recognition systems first interact with the user to gain knowledge about the features of his/her voice. Navigational systems also work this way. AI gets viewed as ‘simulation of human intelligence processes by machines, especially computer systems, he said.

In this way human intelligence gets replaced by machine intelligence. Can we manipulate the processes of machine intelligence and he queried whether AI technologies can make discrepancies. Approximately half a million lives would have been saved if autopilot vehicles were universally available.

“Warfare has evolved from being described as human centric, to platform centric, and now network centred.

On the other hand, autonomy in weapons systems is necessary and challenges are manifold. Therefore, it is important to understand the relation of any emerging technology in the warfare.

Autonomous Weapon is one that is programmed to learn or adapt its functioning in response to changing circumstances in the environment in which it is deployed.

A truly autonomous weapon system would be capable of searching for, identifying and applying lethal force to a target, including a human target (enemy combatants), without any human intervention or control, he pointed out.