Author: Ifeyinwa NSUDE
Site of publication: journals.openedition.org
Type of publication: journal article
Date of publication: 2022
While for many countries, the prospects of artificial intelligence (AI) are exciting, the dawn of AI in Africa conjure up the kinds of innovations people see in science fiction. In Africa, the arrival of AI carries with it a fear of falling further behind more-developed economies, rather than the anticipation of new technology because of the fear that it will lead to loss of jobs by millions of people.
It is on this note that the media should create awareness on what AI has accomplished in developed nations and how it can be adapted to reduce Farmers/Herders conflicts and Boko- Haram insurgency in Nigeria, which is the focus of this study.
Overview of Boko Haram and Herdsmen Insurgency in Nigeria
While the violent deeds of Boko-Haram, with threatening effects on peace and national security, came to public notice in Yobe State in December 2003, the turn of the first decade of the 21st century witnessed violent attacks by armed herdsmen which have been in the increase in Nigeria. The activities of what came to be known as Boko-Haram started when a group of Islamic fanatics who called themselves the ‘Nigerian Taliban’ established settlements at Kanama, on the banks of the River Kumadugu-Yobe and at a forest near Gaidam.
Application of Artificial Intelligence in Emerging Terrorists Sophistication
The war against insurgency in Nigeria is increasingly getting more difficult to win. This is because insurgencies are ultimately in competitions over information rather than territory ideology. However, the deployment of AI in the fight against Boko Haram and armed herdsmen in Nigeria could be of strategic importance in winning the war. AI technology could, for example, facilitate autonomous operations, lead to more informed military decision making, and increase the speed and scale of military action.
As AI is fast being incorporated into a number of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance applications, as well as in logistics, cyberspace operations, information operations, command and control, semi-autonomous and autonomous vehicles, and lethal autonomous weapon systems, there are chances that their application in the fight against Boko Haram will provide the needed response that could dislodge the insurgents from their enclaves. In intelligence operations, the application of AI will mean that there are more sources than ever from which to establish the truth. AI is expected to be particularly useful in intelligence due to the large data sets available for analysis. For instance, the incorporation of computer vision and AI algorithms into intelligence collection cells that would comb through footage from uninhabited aerial vehicles and automatically identify hostile activity for targeting when achieved could go a long way in exploring the forest areas that are the hideouts of the Boko Haram group and the armed herdsmen. In this capacity, AI will automate the work of human analysts who currently spend hours sifting through drone footage for actionable information, potentially freeing analysts to make more efficient and timely decisions based on the data.
Also, AI has the potential to be integrated across a variety of applications, improving the so-called “Internet of Things” in which disparate devices are networked together to optimize performance. In addition, many AI applications are dual-use, meaning they have both military and civil applications. For example, image recognition algorithms can be trained to recognize cats in YouTube videos as well as terrorist activity in full motion video captured by uninhabited aerial vehicles.
AI technology could, for example, facilitate autonomous operations, lead to more informed military decision making, and increase the speed and scale of military action
In support, states that future progress in AI has the potential to be a transformative national security technology, on a par with nuclear weapons, aircraft, computers, and biotech. According to the authors AI has led to significant changes in the strategy, organization, priorities, and allocated resources of the U.S. national security community. It could, therefore, be argued that in Nigeria, the use of AI will be at least equally impactful. Allen & Taniel, state that advances in AI will affect national security by driving change in three areas: military superiority, information superiority, and economic superiority.
In the area of military superiority, the application of AI in Nigeria will both enable new capabilities and make existing capabilities affordable to a broader range of actors. For example, commercially available, AI-enabled technology (such as long-range drone package delivery) may give weak states and non-state actors access to a type of long-range precision strike capability.
Role of the Media (Traditional and Social media) in Information Dissemination
In Nigeria, for example, more than one million lives have been saved by the use of cell phones to alert people on attacks by the Boko Haram group and the herdsmen in the Northeast. Moreover, victims easily survived in an effective and efficient way if they have more detailed information. This is in line with the assertion of Dwivedi and Pandey who postulate that the media play very constructive role in today’s society. Media play important role in increasing of public awareness and collecting views, information and attitudes toward certain issues.
Information media can be divided into social and traditional media. Social media including short messages, microblogs, and news portals, because of their high impact and coverage ratio made possible by developments in information technology, are becoming increasingly popular and therefore critical tools of information dissemination. For instance, they can enhance the decision-making process since more data is provided than it is the case with traditional media.
It could, therefore, be argued that in Nigeria, the use of AI will be at least equally impactful. Allen & Taniel, state that advances in AI will affect national security by driving change in three areas: military superiority, information superiority, and economic superiority
Challenges of Deploying AI to curb the excesses of Herdsmen and Boko Haram Insurgents in Nigeria
AI is a powerful tool that is increasingly being used in both the public and private sectors to make people and society at large healthier, wealthier, safer and more sustainable. The United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, has indicated that, if harnessed appropriately, AI can play a role in the fulfillment of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, ending poverty, protecting the planet and ensuring peace and prosperity for all. It is, however, an enormously powerful technology that is not without its challenges.
If not used properly and with appropriate safeguards, this technology can hamper fundamental freedoms and infringe upon human rights. Although AI has the potential to impart a number of advantages in the military context, it could as well introduce distinct challenges.
However, it is not just the deployment of artificial intelligence that can give an edge to Nigeria in the fight against Boko Haram and Herdsmen. The successful application of AI lies more in the hands of which of the side – the government or the insurgent – that is the first to do so.
This is because it is arguable that the effects of the development of information technology may reduce insurgents’ attacks by making it easier for the states to gather intelligence about insurgents. On the other hand, it may increase attacks by enabling insurgents to better coordinate with one another.
The study revealed that the application of AI technologies in the fight against Boko Haram and Herdsmen insurgency in Nigeria will be impactful if applied appropriately. It will lead to significant changes in the strategy, organization, priorities, and allocated resources of the Nigeria national security community. The deployment of AI will affect national security by driving changes in three areas: military superiority, information superiority, and economic superiority.
Media play important role in increasing of public awareness and collecting views, information and attitudes toward certain issues
For military superiority, progress in AI will both enable new capabilities and make existing capabilities affordable to a broader range of actors. For information superiority, AI will dramatically enhance capabilities for the collection and analysis of data, but also the creation of data. In intelligence operations, this will mean that there are more sources than ever from which to discern the truth.
AI-enhanced forgery of audio and video media is rapidly improving in quality and decreasing in cost. In the future, AI-generated forgeries will challenge the basis of trust across many institutions. Also the challenges of using AI were highlighted in the study. Furthermore, the role of the media in information dissemination was highlighted. They are expected to create awareness on the use of AI in combating the Boko Haram and Herdsmen insurgency.
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