AI and the Future of Deterrence

AI has entered the battlefield too

The question of how to wisely and selectively use emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and autonomy persists at a time when technological progress is occurring quickly. The challenge is to utilize these advances in a way that promotes security and tranquility rather than obstructing them. The time when a state’s nuclear capability was the single most important factor in determining its global significance has unavoidably passed into history.

In the modern era, the rise of AI has irreparably upset the established calculations of power projection and influence. Similarly, AI has been incorporated into the field of military technology due to the revolutionary changes it has made to current military systems. It has brought about a paradigm shift by enabling higher precision, enhancing intelligence gathering abilities, improving detection systems, and enhancing target recognition/vision capabilities. It has proven invaluable in the field of deception, giving militaries improved operational effectiveness in Anti-Access/Area and Area Denial (A2/AD) environments. AI serves as a crucial pillar for the emerging global order as well as signaling the end of traditional sources of power.

Therefore, the USA, Russia, China, France, and India are among the major geopolitical powers that are fervently exploring and deploying AI technologies within the scope of their military frameworks, despite the ethical, operational, and strategic risks that result from the proliferation of military applications of AI. Specifically, the dynamics of India’s long-standing rivalry with Pakistan could change as a result of its ongoing efforts to transform into a superpower.

Pakistan’s nuclear command and control system exudes a confident aura. However, Pakistan is compelled to conduct a thorough self-examination in order to maintain its relevance in the current geopolitical landscape in light of India’s assertive advancements in AI. The President’s Initiative for Artificial Intelligence and Computing (PIAIC) aims to advance national entrepreneurship, research, and educational opportunities in fields like blockchain, AI, and cloud computing. In parallel, the Punjab government launched the National Initiative for Artificial Intelligence and Security (NIAIS) in 2019.

On the other hand, in terms of modern military tactics, India has seamlessly incorporated AI into a variety of high-tech platforms, such as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS), missile defence systems, submarines, and aircraft.

Thus, by bridging the gap between the needs of the labour market and the educational system, this initiative also considers the implications for the nation’s defence capabilities. These initiatives —PIAIC and NIAIS as examples —underline Pakistan’s progressive efforts to spark a technology-driven renaissance. Importantly, these initiatives go beyond simple skill acquisition projects; they emphasize the necessity of sustained investments in academic institutions, research hubs, and partnership projects with domestic and international organizations to create a dynamic and sustainable AI ecosystem.

On the other hand, in terms of modern military tactics, India has seamlessly incorporated AI into a variety of high-tech platforms, such as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS), missile defence systems, submarines, and aircraft. The ability of AI to use massive datasets, which alleviates manpower and capability constraints, has strengthened this strategic convergence even further. A seismic shift in decision-making processes has also been ushered in by AI, which has greatly accelerated these processes while reducing the need for human input.

This anxiety stems from the knowledge that AI-enabled missile systems and satellite platforms have the ability to successfully visualize, track, and carry out precision strikes on their intended targets. AI-supported anti-submarine technologies and swarm tactics have the ability to effectively identify and engage submarines, undermining the stability of deterrence. India’s superiority in anti-submarine warfare capabilities could, concurrently, significantly strengthen its strategic stance.

Lastly, it is axiomatic that technology in and of itself possesses neither inherent goodness nor malice; rather, how it is applied in nuclear armament systems determines whether it strengthens or weakens the deterrence system. Take “AI” in the context of war games, for example. Since there has never been a nuclear conflagration before, all theories about how escalation dynamics might play out in a crisis or war-time scenario remain untested in the field of nuclear strategy. In order to simulate the development of a nuclear conflict or crisis, data would need to be fed into an AI system, which would be a challenging task. The benefits of AI, however, go beyond the boundaries of war-games. In every aspect of complex deterrence architectures, especially given its potential to significantly improve ISR (intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance) capabilities. The incorporation of AI into nuclear weapon systems has the potential to improve accuracy and response times, ultimately improving the effectiveness of both strategic offensive and defensive systems. Strategic stability-related effects could take a positive or negative turn.

Nadir Ali
Nadir Ali
Nadir Ali is a Public Relations Officer (PRO) at Safe City Islamabad, Pakistan. He can be reached at [email protected].

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