The art of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is demonstrated by machines by mimicking human brain like capabilities. This art makes the machine efficient to perform tasks at a speed which is potentially higher than an average human. Such efficiencies of AI have been incorporated in number of spheres such as health, schools, banking, automobiles, policing, security and defense. Although AI is incorporated in civilian use, militaries are equally benefitting from the innovation of such algorithms. Incorporation of AI into the military affairs, especially future warfare, has revolutionized how future warfare would take place.
We live in the 4th Industrial Revolution that is characterized by massive digital revolution and computerization of most aspects of life. This has become a common trend within countries from developed to under developing. Although the developed countries are advanced in the use of technology, however, the under developed countries are not behind. They have also hopped on the band-wagon of industrial revolution and computerization by introducing the use of high-speed internet and computers. The infiltration of internet and computer can be gauged from the fact that 61% of the world’s population is using internet as of 2021. Similar is the case with technological revolution is military affairs.
With this digitalization and computerization, militaries around the world have also benefitted from this advancement. They have incorporated AI into their affair in manners discussed subsequently.
Data Management: Before incorporation of AI into the military domain, the incoming data from cyber, air, ground and the seas were manually interpreted by the receiver either in the cockpit, tank or control room. However, with incorporation of AI such data, coming from multiple stream could be combined, calculated, analyzed and then transmitted to the receiver. In future wars, this data will increase manifolds and manual analysis of such massive data will be out of human capabilities, that is where AI algorithms will play its role in analyzing this data. This analysis will make the receiver aware of a detailed analysis of the enemy and advice which form of counter measures either kinetic or non-kinetic suits best to neutralize the enemy. As future wars will be executed quickly and speedy, therefore, an analyzed data would allow the receiver to make rapid decisions under tough scenarios. This will increase the maneuvering capabilities against the complex scenarios unleashed by enemy’s tactics. It will be possible only when the human training and machine upgrades are at similar level.
Man-Machine Team: Additionally, AI will develop a man and machine teaming that will improve the mission success. AI efficient machines are also said to be the soldier’s wing-man on the battlefield. The scientific developments in AI have been able to tether the human brain with computer in a manner that the computer can analyze human’s physical, psychological and behavioral state. This would enable the AI-robot or computer systems to communication and understand the human soldiers in future warfare. This excellence of AI would be able to allow human to task the AI-robot or the computer system in a manner that the workload and decision making on the battleground is divided as per need of the circumstances. Both man and machine working together will improve the performance on the future battlefield such that errors are eliminated, however, the aspect that has gather legal and ethical is that what would be the correct balance in division of responsibilities between the man and machine.
Autonomous Robots: Technological advancements in AI have been able to produce robots that could be either partially autonomous or fully autonomous. The present warfare dynamics have partially autonomous robots such as drones that would have autonomous take off, landing and surveillance capabilities such as used in Iraq and Afghanistan. The future warfare dynamics, however, could have fully autonomous robots that would hold the features to identify, aim, engage and neutralize the target without the interference of man. This aspect has raised ethical and legal concerns, as rules of armed conflict does not mention the engagements of robots in warfare. The main concern raised is that who would be held accountable for the killing; the scientist who developed AI algorithms, man behind the robot or the state. Unless this concern is addressed, interference of fully autonomous robots in the battleground would remain restricted. The autonomous robots are considered important in situations where response to an attack cannot be initiated by human and an automated response to engage and neutralize the attack would be essential for survival, for instance, in case of an intentional or unintentional nuclear attack. The future battleground would present such threats that need novel and creative counter-measures.
Integrated Battlefield: In order to tackle the intensity of such threats, the future warfare will devise response in multidomain with the help of AI. AI will enable integrated battlefield by developing connection between all the forces present in the air, cyber, on the ground and seas. This integrated battlefield would allow the response to an attack in one domain through an attack in the other domain. For instance, a response to an aerial missile strike could be through cyber domain or through a naval ship. This would be possible due to linkage between sensors through AI which will assess and analyze incoming data from all forces in order to recommend appropriate response. This data could be coming from a solider on the ground to anyone in the seas. This advancement in AI would enable a revolutionary modernization of warfighting capabilities as it would allow collaboration of all the tools of war. However, the aspect of integrated battlefield that is still a challenge in its implementation is how to devise a leadership that can effectively manage the integrated battlefield.
The integration of AI would be an effective force multiplier in the battlefields of future. It would assist the soldiers in completing mission and ease the planning for the leadership. Nonetheless, this will elevate the level of threats and challenges manifolds. Some forms of AI would pose grave challenges than others. These challenges would formulate a dense network of threats. Moreover, the character of warfare would become more lethal as the line between threats and attacks would be blurred. According to Brookings institute, AI will take central and an important role in warfare by 2040. The degree of conflicts of this timeframe would be highly escalatory if laws and regulations are not made in time to tame the impact of AI on future warfare.