SOUNDING A note of caution on incorporating robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) in warfare, deputy chief of Integrated Defence Staff (doctrine organisation and training) Lieutenant General P J S Pannu stressed on the need of a legal framework and fresh international convention for using the twin technologies in the defence sector.
“When you are defending your nation, the legal provisions of your country will obviously be supportive of you. But when it comes to fighting a human being, ethics will come in. What if something goes wrong with the system, which has been created by human beings?” Lt Gen Pannu said. He was speaking at the inauguration of a seminar-cum-exhibition on ‘Military Robotics and Autonomous Systems’ at the Military Institute of Technology (MILIT), Girinagar, near Pune.
The event, which seeks to commemorate the Raising Day of MILIT, is a first among a series of seminars planned on the topic of military robotics, autonomous systems and artificial intelligence (AI).
Referring to the decision-making function of these systems, the Lt Gen said: “In case of human beings, you can actually question how one makes sense of something in a particular manner. But when machine starts making sense, then sense-making itself will have to be held to account through another system, which at the moment doesn’t exist. So that is a challenge we will have deal with.”
He said international conventions would have to step in to see how much artificial intelligence can be used for automotive war fighting.
“Once we take human beings out of what we call the ‘kill chain’, then what will remain is machine against machine. The challenges of replacing a soldier with a robot has the danger of its programme going out of your control in some way, and then the decision taken through that robot can cause harm,” he said. The Lt Gen added that replacement should happen with a lot of caution.
Speaking about industry and military collaboration, he said, “Investment will not come unless there is dual use of technology. People who have to make business out of it and people who have to benefit out of these scientific explorations will have to sit together. A large section of industry has come up from the military requirements. As a result the industrial revolution cannot be divorced from military revolution.”
During the seminar, a panel discussion was moderated by Dr Rajesh Ingle, Dean, Pune Institute of Computer Technology. Other speakers, who were part of the seminar, included Lt Col P Anand Kumar, Capt Brijesh Kalra (Retd), Karthika Roy from Research and Development Establishment (Engineers), Aniruddha Pradhan, Aditya Gupta and Sachin Deshpande.
The seminar and exhibition were attended by over 200 student officers from the Army, Navy and Air Force, who are undertaking courses at MILIT and College of Military Engineering (CME) Pune.