OSINF Report- Indian MOD Foray into Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Better late than never, Indian Ministry of Defence has made the first public foray into Artificial Intelligence seen as the next technology leap that can provide multiple advantages in the war fighting domain

A Ministry of Defence Press Release on 21 May 2018 indicated, that “Raksha Mantri Smt Nirmala Sitharaman inaugurated the ‘Stakeholders’ Workshop on Artificial Intelligence in National Security and Defence, Listing of Use Cases’, here today. It was attended by Chairman DRDO & Secretary Department of Defence R&D Dr S Christopher, Secretary (Defence Production) Dr Ajay Kumar and other senior officials of the Ministry of Defence and Services”.

The release goes on to state, that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a branch of computer science dealing with the simulation of intelligent behaviour in computers, has shown significant technical advancement in some of the developed countries, these being though unstated the United States and China. The US is in fact chasing China’s advances in this sphere.

Most of this progress is due to advances in the AI sub-field of Machine Learning (ML) as per the press release.

However AI has multiple dimensions as a recent US Congress Bill to establish the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence has defined. These include as per the proposed Bill (A) Any artificial system that performs tasks under varying and unpredictable circumstances without significant human oversight, or that can learn from experience and improve performance when exposed to data sets. (B) An artificial system developed in computer software, physical hardware, or other context  that solves tasks requiring human-like perception, cognition, planning, learning, communication, or physical action. (C) An artificial system designed to think or act like a human, including cognitive architectures and neural networks. (D) A set of techniques, including machine learning, that is designed to approximate a cognitive task. (E) An artificial system designed to act rationally, including an intelligent software agent or embodied robot that achieves goals using perception, planning, reasoning, learning, communicating, decision making, and acting.

Hopefully the Indian AI vocabulary will expand to include each of these facets.

The Ministry of Defence believes that “AI has a potential to have transformative impact on national security. It is also seen that AI is essentially a dual use technology. While it can fuel technology driven economic growth, it also has potential to provide military superiority”. A

A multi-stakeholder Task Force represented by members from the Government, Services, Academia, Industry Professionals and Start-ups has been constituted with the approval of the Raksha Mantri for developing future roadmap on AI with following goals - To establish tactical deterrent in the region. To support its peaceful and commercial use. To mitigate catastrophic risk. To visualize potential transformative weaponry of future. To facilitate in keeping a check on non-state actors. To develop intelligent, autonomous robotic systems. To enhance capabilities for collection and analysis of data and also creation of data. To bolster cyber defence and the press release goes on to provide the terms of reference of the same.

The AI Task Force of Ministry of Defence under the Chairmanship Shri C Chandrasekharan, Chairman of Tata Sons, has met twice on 10 February and 28 April 2018. In the last meeting it was discussed that one of the key approach for the use of AI is to work on building profile that mimics normal behaviour by learning from the data generated from a given use case. Then using machine learning/ deep learning techniques, one can draw correlations among various parameters in an automated way (from the huge data set) and can flag pattern and anomalous behaviour for further analysis and insights. This essentially forms the basis for AI based applications. Thus, it was decided that a Stakeholders’ Workshop on AI in National Security and Defence shall be organized for ‘Listing of Use Cases the Ministry of Defence informs us.

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