India boosts military AI efforts amid China rivalry

The Indian military sees potential in using AI-powered drones and robots for patrolling borders.

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India is ramping up its efforts in the field of AI, not only for commercial purposes but also for military applications, as it seeks to keep pace with its regional rival, China. A report by the Delhi Policy Group highlighted India’s annual spending on AI, estimated at around $50 million, which is dwarfed by China’s investment, surpassing 30 times that amount. Recognising the strategic importance of AI, India aims to bolster its indigenous AI capabilities to bolster its defence capabilities.

The Indian military has been actively exploring AI applications, including the recent launch of a robotic buddy designed to carry out tasks such as surveillance and supporting soldiers in rugged terrains. The Signals Technology Evaluation and Adaptation Group (STEAG) also spearheads research into AI and other emerging technologies to enhance modern warfare capabilities. India’s collaboration with the US on AI development further underscores its commitment to leveraging cutting-edge technology for defence purposes.

Why does it matter?

AI holds significant potential for enhancing military intelligence, training, and education, offering insights into real-time simulations and exercises. However, concerns remain about AI technology’s ethical implications and potential misuse, including the proliferation of deepfakes and disinformation campaigns. While India boasts a strong civilian AI sector, it faces stiff competition from China’s well-funded and centralised military AI system.

As AI technology continues to evolve, India aims to play a leading role in shaping the ethical and legal frameworks governing its use in warfare and society at large. With ongoing research and investment in AI, India seeks to ensure that its military remains at the forefront of technological innovation, positioning itself as a key player in the future landscape of high-tech warfare.