Deployment of AI in Modern Warfare

The Israeli offensive in Gaza, which has been ongoing for two months, has resulted in the killing of over 15,000 people in Gaza in response to the October 7th Hamas attack. Following the week-long ceasefire and resumption of bombardment and other attacks, more information is coming to light regarding the tactics utilized by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in these attacks.

There has not been any significant visibility as to the methods or rationale used by the IDF in selecting its targets, but there is now evidence to suggest that artificial intelligence (AI) powered platforms are playing a significant role toward this end. An Israeli AI system dubbed Habsora, “the Gospel,” is producing automated recommendations for targeting, according to reporting by The Guardian, based on testimonies of interviews with current and former intelligence officials. To date, the IDF has struck approximately 15,000 targets in Gaza, a stark increase from its military operations in the past.

This current application of the technology is not the first time that the IDF has employed such tools; during the previous round of fighting in 2021, the IDF claimed that the technology enabled it to identify up to 100 targets a day, compared to approximately 50 targets in a year. The IDF’s Gospel has highlighted the role that AI may play in future warfare and how decision making supported by machine learning can drastically alter operations on the ground through the rapid and centralized generation of potential targets.

We are also seeing reports of AI deployed in the battlefield in other current ongoing conflicts, including Russia’s war in Ukraine in which Ukraine is leveraging AI to identify and strike Russian targets. Similarly, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in 2020 witnessed Azerbaijan’s use of armed drones in attacking and destroying Armenian tank. Once more, these issues bring to the forefront issues surrounding the ethical and moral implications of the use of autonomous weapons and other AI-powered military assets, and the need for their regulation, especially in war and other theaters of conflict.

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