High-level intelligence collection will no longer be the preserve of government agencies alone, says Pranjal Sharma.
New emerging technologies are helping corporates and government in not just advanced intelligence gathering but also counter measures to protect information.
Many governments are actively combining their national security concerns with their technological abilities.
The US government's National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (NSCAI) is one such example.
The NSCAI has brought political leaders, technologists and security experts together to chart the path for using technology for national security, intelligence gathering and building economic heft.
The chair of the commission was Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google. Its members included current CEO of Amazon Andy Jassy and former Deputy Secretary of Defence Robert Work.
"AI concepts and technologies for military and other malign uses and cheap and commercially available AI applications ranging from 'deep fakes' to lethal drones become available to rogue states, terrorists, and criminals. The United States must prepare to defend against these threats by quickly and responsibly adopting AI for national security and defence purposes," said the report of the commission, which was released earlier this year.
"The most immediate application of AI for processing is helping to 'triage' and sort the intelligence community's massive data and information flows, automating tedious and time-intensive tasks still often done manually," says an analytical brief by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
"AI tools and analytics can also be exploited to enable human specialists in their core mission: identifying, recruiting, and securing intelligence from foreign agents."
Intelligence communities in most countries are working with the private sector to develop homegrown tech capabilities. A VC fund called In-Q-Tel works closely with US intelligence agencies and invests in spy-tech companies.
The company's aim is "to invest in cutting-edge technologies to enhance the national security of the United States. IQT focuses on the 15,000+ early stage venture-backed startup companies in the US and select other countries. IQT also identifies and analyses technologies in all stages of development that are critical to national security."
India is also warming up to collaborating with domestic tech companies to boost their intelligence and defence capabilities using emerging technologies. It is encouraging startups to work with defence organisations to create software as well as hardware, like drones for defence and intelligence purposes.
The use of emerging technologies by intelligence communities will be much deeper than what is visible.
High-level intelligence collection will no longer be the preserve of government agencies alone. For example, the increasing use of satellite visuals will require image analysis software created by startups.
The pandemic era also brings to mind the need for counter-intelligence on potential bio-warfare.
The CSIS paper suggests that a new category of "bio-intelligence" will rise.
Emerging tech is being deployed not just by government agencies but also by the corporate world to get market intelligence and information on competitors.
From $90.33 billion in 2021, the global surveillance technology market is expected to reach $146.41 billion in 2025, according to an estimate by Business Research Company. This includes surveillance software development; video surveillance; big data; biometrics; domestic drones; face recognition technology; RFID chips; and stingray tracking devices.
*Kindly note the image has been posted only for representational purposes.
Feature Presentation: Ashish Narsale/ Rediff.com