by: Prof. Amit Das who is heading Centre for AI and Machine Learning, The ICFAI University, Dehradun. His area of interest is AI, Strategic Intelligence and AI based Warfare.    [email protected]     

In 2017 Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, said that if any country wants to be a global power it must practice AI technologies. The global think tanks are predicting that by 2030 China would be the absolute global power due to extensive use of AI technologies. China is aggressively scaling AI in military arsenals through decentralised development and experimentation. Global powers are preparing and delivering structured road-maps to enhance the combat capabilities and address complex key missions of modern warfare. Countries are rapidly deploying AI-enabled capabilities to strengthen current military infrastructure and improving AI research and development for the security missions.

States are now resorting to AI to handle the national nuclear weapon eco-system and its command and control. The impact of AI is deeply influencing the acquisition capability of strategic data for high-tech weapon system. The nature of high-tech weapon system is that they are very expensive to fabricate, complex to use, has long and tough R&D cycles and is usually requires highly trained manpower. The exponential process in ICT (Information and Communication Technology) and AI Technology is providing a new intelligent ecosystem, which is unification of information, communication and advance surveillance technologies which makes it possible to create a wide range of new military technologies. The integration of diverse technologies in advanced heavy weapon systems is promoting dynamic up-gradation and constant modernization of the systems. Due to advanced wide-range multi-spectral sensors, countries are creating Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance AI based weapon system. The AI advancements are deeply influencing and diversifying the nuclear arsenals of the countries.

The congruence of AI technologies with nuclear weapon system is impacting two domains of nuclear warfare:-

  1. Nuclear Command, Control and Communication (N3C)
  2. Autonomous nuclear-weapon system

 The N3C system would be deployed to scale-up well-grounded communication infrastructure and early warning system. It helps to take pre-action decision for the self-automated retaliatory missile launch. The enhancement of trustability in communication system and decision-support with AI has countless benefits. The self-automated retaliatory system is completely based on the AI software due to active-situational-awareness capability and random changing environment.

For autonomous nuclear-weapon systems, the sophisticated human-like capabilities are required. AI technologies are capable to incorporate such capabilities in the weapon system with effective efficiency. The autonomous weapon system demands obstacle detection, smooth manoeuvrability, accurate target identification and long-range motion with wait capability. It also faces some strong challenges in reliably identifying object, responding real-time, planning and controlling attack routes without GPS and resilient defence against cyber-attacks.           

AI based weapon system could reduce the countries confidence in their second strike capabilities and potentiality. It could influence the ability of defence commanders to control as the air university states ” the outbreak of hybrid warfare, manage its random escalation, and ultimately terminate armed conflict“. It provides early-warning system such as missile-detection and warning, prelaunch warning system and attack characterization. The revolutionary advancement in sensor technology with AI could be fabricated and injected to trace, track and predict the target of missiles more accurately and faster than established satellite and ground radar systems.       

AI might provide the active decision-support-system to nuclear weapons for the situational analysis, circumstantial assessment, and course-of-action development and evaluation. The intelligent nuclear system could prepare better optimized response options based on available situational awareness. AI-aided weapon system could handle the complex-war-attack situations based on available processed information and execute best decisions. There are various possible use of AI for the advancement of modern nuclear weapon systems with high-degree of feasible risks. It is necessary to articulate those risk by the states with more transparency and expandability, with minimum risk of failure, robust testing with fail-free engineering.

Disclaimer: Views expressed are that of the Author.


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