Can AI Fight Terrorism?
- There is a problem with infiltrating terrorist cells, as the most suitable agents, those with natural language and culture background, are also those who are most vulnerable to sympathizing with the enemy and changing sides. This can also be a problem in the case of intellectuals who are so proud of their extensive knowledge of the enemy and of the enemy's religion of choice, that, with no strong beliefs of their own, they become overwhelmed by those passionate ideas and susceptible to converting to the other side.
Agencies are in the process of inducting large numbers of native speakers and that increases the percentage of agents who may be a risk. Of course, you don't need many agents to turn, only one, one in any sensitive position. These are the sets of jobs that the recruiter needs to investigate and ensure that the prospective candidates have and are fortified by an existing personal strong belief system at their core. Belief systems need encouragement or they may fade and be replaced by competing energetic systems. This means that managers should not rule by command and harshness but need to lead by praising and respecting teamwork. People stick to what enhances their life and that's where their loyalties go.
'Human beings who possess the ability to use logic, imagination and judgment' are only able to be valuable overseers of computer processes so long as their hierarchy chooses to allow their charges the necessary flexibility in the workplace to apply heuristic logic, express their imagination and exercise their judgment hard won from a life of mixed experience.
Can AI Fight Terrorism?
Yes, but we need humans too.
The following article is by Juval Aviv, from www.forbes.com, 06.22.2009
Artificial intelligence (AI) applications in the field of counter-terrorism are among the fastest growing components of security programming for both government and corporate entities.
One of the most important applications for artificial intelligence in the field of counterterrorism is the processing of collected data. You cannot wage a traditional war against terrorists, but a key to fighting terrorism is good intelligence. The only way to protect our citizens and apprehend terrorists before they execute their plans is to know what they are planning in advance. One of the chief obstacles in this battle is not only the acquisition of the necessary intelligence from the various types of surveillance that our government agencies employ but the ability to process all of this data and recognize patterns and relationships.
Computer programs that have the ability to not only collect and sort millions of bits of random data, but to recognize how they relate to each other, are invaluable in the fight against terrorism because no human being has the ability to process the enormous amount of information that our intelligence agencies receive. Without the ability to process the information, the information is useless.
Artificial intelligence is increasingly used in combination with physical surveillance. Instead of just having a person observing a bank of security monitors, an AI-enhanced CCTV system has the ability to identify potential problems itself and alert security personnel. These systems have been used in cities like Chicago and London for years. The ability to recognize aberrant or suspicious behavior or even facial recognition capabilities that some of these systems possess is extremely useful in fighting terrorism and capturing known terrorists and criminals.
Even though AI-enhanced security systems like surveillance cameras have been used with some success, these systems often fail to exceed their human counterparts, as they can recognize red flags but lack "total picture" judgment. For example, a person standing a couple of feet from his or her suitcase for more than a few minutes at an airport could set off an alert with an AI-monitored camera system, whereas a human being looking at the same scenario would know that there is not yet a cause for concern. This can result in a "boy who cried wolf" scenario where too many false alarms cause alarms to be ignored.
So, while artificial intelligence in all of its many forms is a very useful tool in the fight against terrorism, there is still no substitute yet for human beings. Computer programs are only as good as the information that they have received and, thus far, are only capable of recognizing patterns of events similar to those that have already taken place. They are not able to take the information that they have and extrapolate from that to predict events of a type that are not already programmed into their pattern-recognition algorithm, nor can they take information that they are programmed to recognize as a threat and then make a judgment, as humans can do.
We have seen the results of becoming too reliant on technology in the aftermath of Sept. 11, when we realized too late that we had too few agents in the field who could infiltrate terrorist rings, and too few agents who were fluent in the necessary foreign languages. For years, the U.S. government had relied on technology at the expense of "boots on the ground" intelligence, going so far as to view experience living abroad as a negative for new recruits. Computerized surveillance systems were less costly in terms of both blood and treasure, and safer in terms of political fallout from captured agents. That technology was not enough, however, and we are still trying to catch up eight years later.
The field of artificial intelligence is advancing rapidly and will continue to have many applications in the fight against terror. At the present time, however, the advancements in these types of programs are not so great that we can depend on them to replace human beings who possess the ability to use logic, imagination and judgment.
Juval Aviv is president & CEO of Interfor, an international corporate investigations and security consulting firm. He began his career as an officer in the Israel Defense Force. He is a special consultant to the U.S. Congress on issues of terrorism and security. Aviv is also the author of The Complete Terrorism Survival Guide: How to Travel, Work and Live in Safety;Staying Safe: The Complete Guide to Protecting Yourself, Your Family, & Your Business;Max and Flight 103.