How artificial intelligence (AI) can help Indian armed forces?

Published: March 29, 2018

The use of AI for military operations has often generated lot of controversies. It is necessary to look at possible applications of AI beyond automatic weapons systems.
AI has a number of non-lethal uses for militaries across the world, and especially for the Indian military. These potential uses of AI could prove to be exploitable low-hanging fruit for Indian army to quickly and effectively enhance its technological capabilities.

  • Logistics and supply chain management

An efficient logistics system lies at the heart of any well-functioning military.  This is especially complicated for the Indian Armed Forces given the diverse environments and conditions they operate in. AI-backed systems can aid in increasing efficiencies, reducing wastage and overall costs in the military’s logistics management.

  • Cyber-operations

With rapid strides in the arena of science and technology, cyber warfare becomes faster, more sophisticated and more dangerous. It is necessary to develop both offensive and defensive cyber-war capabilities to protect the military’s own assets and communication links and also to attack similar assets of opposing militaries. 
AI systems could actually prove to be far more efficient and effective than humans for such tasks. The scale and speed of the responses necessary in evolving cyber-operation domains make it unlikely that humans will be able to tackle evolving threats in an effective manner by themselves.
Hence AI is the future of cyber-operations with machine-on-machine engagements increasingly becoming the norm especially to counter low-order or routine threats.

  • Surveillance and reconnaissance(ISR)

Various countries have adopted AI for surveillance and reconnaissance. Using AI for ISR can be in two different forms

  • Use of AI in unmanned vehicles and systems air, land, or on water and under water. This includes drones, ships and submersibles and ground vehicles. These intelligent unmanned systems could be used for patrolling in harsh terrains and weather conditions, providing harbour protection. Thus providing for scouting the battlefield or conflict zone with no danger to human soldiers.
  • In data analysis and interpretation. AI can be used to identify predetermined suspicious behavior from the video footage of a surveillance drone, and thereby identify potential targets. Much of such work is currently done by humans which are cumbersome and time consuming. AI could do this in a few hours and in a significantly more efficient manner.

The incorporation of AI with existing technical and manpower capabilities could potentially lead to a long-term reduction in costs, while improving its technological capabilities. Therefore the Indian military needs a positive engagement with the technology firms which have established a niche for itself in AI.

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