The Israeli military has recently integrated advanced AI technology into its combat operations in Gaza, marking a first for the ongoing conflict. This move has sparked concerns about the implications of autonomous weapons in modern warfare.
A senior defense official revealed that the AI-enabled technology is primarily focused on neutralizing enemy drones and mapping Hamas’s extensive tunnel network in Gaza. Israel’s tech industry, which accounts for 18 percent of GDP in 2022, is facing challenges due to the conflict, with an estimated eight percent of its workforce called up for military service.
The increasing civilian death toll highlights the need for greater oversight over the deployment of these new defense technologies. International concerns about the use of AI in weapons systems were highlighted in a UN resolution in December, where over 150 countries identified “serious challenges and concerns” in emerging military technologies, including artificial intelligence and autonomy.
The conflict with Hamas has seen a shift in the dynamics of modern warfare as Israel responds to the proliferation of inexpensive unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones. In response to this threat, Israel has employed new technology to counter them, such as integrating an AI-enabled optic sight created by startup Smart Shooter onto weapons like rifles and machine guns. This innovation helps soldiers intercept drones even if they are visually impaired or regular soldiers.
In addition, AI-powered drones are being used to map and navigate Hamas’s extensive underground tunnel network known as “Gaza Metro.” These tunnels are crucial hiding places and locations where hostages are held. Drones equipped with AI capabilities can detect humans and operate underground, providing significant implications for future combat operations.