India now wants artificial intelligence-based weapon systems
To develop intelligent, autonomous robotic systems and bolstering cyber defence
Artificial Intelligance (AI)
Humanoid robots, armed with lethal weapons, to guard the long borders with Pakistan and China? Or, unmanned tanks, submarines and aircraft to take the battle to the enemy? Well, all this as of now may be in the realm of pure science fiction for India, which does not even have aerial combat drones.
But India does not want to miss the bus in the new global arms race to develop artificial intelligence(AI)-powered weapon and surveillance systems for futuristic wars. The country's defence establishment is now working towards harnessing the expertise of the information technology industry and academia in this arena, taking a cue from countries like the US and China that are focusing on AI and MI (machine learning) to develop lethal autonomous weapon systems (LAWS).
The critical need to be prepared for this new revolution in military affairs was even stressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the DefExpo in Chennai last month. "New and emerging technologies like AI and Robotics will perhaps be the most important determinants of defensive and offensive capabilities for any defence force in the future. + India, with its leadership in information technology domain, would strive to use this technology tilt to its advantage," he said.
But it will take a lot of doing. The government is banking on a multi-stakeholder taskforce, which was set up in February, to formulate a concrete strategy and framework for "employment of AI for national security and defence needs" in the years ahead.
"The world is moving towards AI-driven warfare. India is also taking necessary steps to prepare our armed forces because AI has the potential to have a transformative impact on national security. The government has set up the AI taskforce to prepare the roadmap for it," said Union defence production secretary Ajay Kumar.
The 17-member taskforce, which is headed by Tata Sons chairman N Chandrasekaran and includes national cyber security coordinator Gulshan Rai, IIT and IISc professors as well as two and three-star generals and representatives from ISRO, DRDO and Atomic Energy Commission, is working on the roadmap with several goals in mind. They range from "establishing tactical deterrence in the region and visualizing potential transformative weaponry" to "developing intelligent, autonomous robotic systems and bolstering cyber defence".
"The taskforce will make recommendations on how to make India a significant power in AI, in terms of both offensive and defensive needs, especially in aviation, naval, land systems, cyber, nuclear and biological warfare arenas. Initial tenders or RFIs (requests for information) will be floated over the next two years on dual-use AI capabilities," said an official.
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