Artificial Intelligence Assisted Terrorism


    Artificial Intelligence Assisted Terrorism 

    Syllabus: GS2/ Government Policies & Interventions; GS3/ Science & Technology, Challenges to Internal Security

    In Context

    • The utilisation and possession of AI-based technologies by terrorist organisations pose a significant and concerning threat to the stability of States.

    About Artificial Intelligence (AI)

    • About:
      • It is the science and engineering of making intelligent machines, especially intelligent computer programs. 
      • AI encompasses developing computer systems capable of performing tasks that traditionally require human intelligence. 
      • Breakthroughs in Machine Learning (ML), Natural Language Processing (NLP), computer vision, and robotics have propelled AI to unprecedented heights. 
    • Significance:
      • The convergence of enhanced computational power, vast amounts of data, and sophisticated algorithms has unlocked AI’s potential to revolutionise healthcare, finance, transportation, and security.
      • AI would not replace people but create new opportunities in various fields. 
      • AI is creating new opportunities which could not be achieved by traditional technology.

    AI-assisted Terrorism

    • About:
      • As AI technologies continue to advance, terrorist organisations are increasingly utilising these tools to enhance their capabilities, adapt their tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs), and propagate their ideologies
      • The ability of terrorist organisations to employ AI algorithms to evaluate enormous volumes of data and derive essential insights is the most critical feature of AI-assisted terrorism. 
    • Potential challenges:
      • These insights can help conspire and execute a terrorist attack by identifying possible targets, vulnerabilities, and security force patterns. 
      • Terrorist groups may make more accurate judgements, alter their methods in real time, and optimise their operations for maximum impact by leveraging the potential of AI.
      • Moreover, emerging advanced and disruptive technologies will provide more additional capabilities to terrorists for inflicting damage.
    • Implications:
      • This convergence of AI and terrorism has far-reaching implications for security agencies and necessitates a proactive and comprehensive approach to counter this emerging threat.
      • The emergence of AI-assisted terrorism poses a significant and evolving challenge to national security.

    AI Tools Assisting Terrorist Organisations 

    • Deep Fakes:
      • About:
        • Deepfakes (Deep Learning + Fake) are synthetic media in which a person in an existing image or video is replaced with someone else’s likeness. 
        • Deepfakes leverage powerful techniques from machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) to manipulate or generate visual and audio content with a high potential to deceive.
      • Challenges:
        • As with any technological advancement, deep fakes also bear a darker side that raises concerns regarding their potential exploitation by criminal syndicates, including terrorist organisations. 
        • In India, terror groups like The Resistance Front (TRF) and the Tehreeki-Milat-i-Islami (TMI) have already leveraged fake videos and photos to provoke specific groups, especially targeting young individuals more susceptible to manipulation.
    • AI-enabled Chat Platforms:
      • About:
        • AI-enabled communication platforms, mainly chat applications, have the potential to be powerful tools for terrorists aiming to radicalise and recruit individuals. 
      • Challenges: 
        • Using AI algorithms, these platforms may send a tailored and customised message that caters to potential recruits’ interests and vulnerabilities.
        • In recent years, “Rocket.Chat” has emerged as a highly reliable online communication platform, adopted by the Islamic State (IS) in December 2018 and later by al-Qaeda.
        • Its Slack-like interface facilitates seamless and encrypted conversations between jihadist groups and their supporters, enabling the dissemination of official and unofficial propaganda through privately-operated servers.
    • Weaponization of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UASs):
      • About:
        • Unmanned Aerial Systems (UASs), commonly called drones, have experienced significant growth and utilisation across various industries.
        • With technological advancements, drones have become more affordable, accessible, and sophisticated, offering numerous benefits and applications in agriculture, photography, and courier services
      • Challenges:
        • Alongside their legal applications, there remains a growing concern regarding the potential misuse of drones by terrorist organisations. 
        • In 2021, twin explosions assisted by drones occurred in the Indian Air Force’s base in Jammu, which pointed to the involvement of the Pakistan-based terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba.


    • Implementing partial bans:
      • A total ban on AI proliferation is impossible as AI is developed primarily by the commercial sector rather than the governments. AI applications, such as writing-digital assistants for commercial use, cannot be banned altogether. 
      • However, bans on technologies that threaten people’s livelihood are possible and likely.
    • Deep Fakes to counter deep fakes:
      • Developing and deploying automated algorithms for detecting deepfakes is a significant step towards mitigating the rise of deepfakes. 
      • Several countries, like India and China have recently criminalised using deepfakes for malicious purposes. 
      • India has also introduced draft legislation to amend its Information Technology Act, aiming to criminalise the creation and distribution of harmful deepfake content.
    • Geofencing:
      • When it comes to countering the hostile use of drones by terrorist organisations, there are no single countermeasures. One of the countermeasures would be geofencing critical infrastructure and military bases. 
      • Geofencing is a system that creates virtual boundaries around a physical location using GPS or Radio Frequency Identification (RFID).
      • This measure prevents GPS-enabled drones from entering such areas. 
    • Deployment of Anti-Drone System (ADS): 
      • ADS can quickly identify and jam micro drones and use a laser-based kill mechanism to destroy the target. 
    • High-power microwave counter-drone systems:
      • Technologies like high-power microwave counter-drone systems are being developed, demonstrating taking down multiple drones. 
      • It uses electromagnetic radiation to destroy the internal electronics of drones within seconds.

    Way Ahead

    • While the possibility of exploitation of AI-enabled capabilities by terrorist groups is still in its infancy, it is critical to be aware of developments in this field.
    • To prevent a dystopian future and ensure a collaborative approach, it is essential to have international agreements and standards for AI development and use. 
    • As AI continues to evolve rapidly, it is imperative to strike a balance between fostering innovation and ensuring ethical use.


    Daily Mains Question

    [Q] The emergence of AI-assisted terrorism poses a significant and evolving challenge to national security. Examine. Suggest ways to effectively control & counter AI proliferation.