Israel deploys killer AI systems for military operations; know the dangers posed by AI warfare

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have incorporated artificial intelligence (AI) into military operations, using it to select targets and optimize logistics during conflicts. Worryingly, it has many aspects to that can go wrong and set off a huge conflict.

| Updated on: Jul 17 2023, 13:24 IST
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Israel deploys AI systems in military operations, raising concerns. (Pexels)

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) are employing artificial intelligence (AI) systems in their military operations to select targets for air strikes and manage wartime logistics. As tensions rise in the occupied territories and with arch-rival Iran, the IDF has turned to AI technology to enhance its capabilities, according to a Bloomberg report.

While specific operations are not disclosed, officials confirm the use of an AI recommendation system to analyze vast amounts of data and suggest targets for air strikes. An AI tool, called Fire Factory, is utilized to swiftly organize air raids. Fire Factory employs military-approved target data to calculate the appropriate munition loads, prioritize targets, assign them to aircraft and drones, and propose a schedule.

Questions of accountability and regulation surrounding AI in warfare

Human operators oversee both systems, reviewing and approving individual targets and air raid plans. However, the use of this technology is not currently regulated at the international or state level. Supporters say that improved algorithms can outperform human capabilities and potentially reduce casualties. Critics, on the other hand, express concerns about the potentially lethal consequences of relying on increasingly autonomous systems.

Tal Mimran, a lecturer of international law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and former legal counsel for the army, highlights the risks involved to Bloomberg, "If there is a mistake in the calculation of the AI, and if the AI is not explainable, then who do we blame for the mistake?" he asks. A single error can wipe out a whole family.

Although specific details of the IDF's AI usage are classified, statements from military officials suggest that the technology has been employed in periodic conflicts in the Gaza Strip. Israel frequently carries out air strikes in response to rocket attacks in that region. In 2021, the IDF referred to the conflict as the world's first "AI war," citing the use of artificial intelligence to identify rocket launchpads and deploy drone swarms. In addition, Israel conducts raids in Syria and Lebanon to target weapons shipments to Iran-backed militants.

As tensions with Iran escalate and concerns over its uranium enrichment persist, Israel has been issuing regular warnings against Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons. The IDF anticipates potential retaliation from Iranian proxies in Gaza, Syria, and Lebanon, potentially leading to a significant multi-front conflict. AI-based tools like Fire Factory are specifically designed to handle such scenarios, allowing quicker decision-making with human oversight.

Colonel Uri, head of the IDF's digital transformation unit, emphasizes the efficiency gains from AI implementation. He explains, "What used to take hours now takes minutes, with a few more minutes for human review. With the same amount of people, we do much more."

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First Published Date: 17 Jul, 12:14 IST