There have been rapid changes in the fields of IT in the in last two decades and developments in IT and ITES has disrupted many set industries. The Uber is the largest personal transport services provider specially city taxi services in the world wherein it doesn’t own a single car in its inventory, so is the case of Air BNB which sales hotel space across the world without owning a single suit of its own. There are some other success stories in India too like Zomato, Foodpanda, OYO and so on. This has happened just because of IT which is disrupting industries at a faster pace than anticipated. Time is not far wherein security industry may find silent entry of some of the IT giants sooner than later. There is a famous saying that “if you don’t change with time, time will change you.” If we (security professionals) fail to read the writings on the wall and embrace the new technologies in the field of Security and continue to believe that technology can’t replace human elements altogether, well, it may be right to some extent, but one will be outsmarted for sure.
I am talking about the developments that are taking place in the field of Information technology in general and Artificial Intelligence (AI) in particular, we can surely predict what is going to be the future of the security industry if it does not move fast with the time. It may be possible that entire security business will be swamped by the giant companies like Google, Apple, Infosys, TCS and Wipro as the security industry is too big to ignore. The entry of these biggies will be through the route of AI and Machine Learning. They will not supply human guards in uniform, but they will sell and deploy decoys (robots) and replace the existing security guards along-with existing security appliances, albeit superior in capabilities. But I don’t wish to say that there will be no human component at all; surely they will be around but most of them will be working from the swanky labs of California, Bengaluru, Hyderabad etc and operate remotely; a very small number will be deployed on ground (within the business premises of the clients) for doing routine maintenance of these machines, uploading corrected or upgraded versions of the software or in case of failure of proper response by the humanoid (robotised manakin) and provided it fails to correct itself automatically that is failure of algorithms in self learning tools.
At this moment, aforesaid conditions may appear to be straight page from a fiction but shouldn’t be wished away because it is almost a reality e.g. case of Sofia, winking lady robot, who was offered honorary citizenship by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia few months back and latest entry of the News Reader on TV channels (for demonstration purposes only).
AI and Its Development
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the latest technology, a branch of computer science originally aimed to create machines with some intelligence to replicate the human labour. These machines were specially designed to perform basic human functions mechanically and repetitively with 100% precision but does not suffer from fatigue wherein human endeavour is fraught with errors, more so when done repetitively. These are highly useful and can be designed to perform menial jobs which are hazardous and risky like Bomb disposal, mine lifting or even operating in NBC contaminated areas.
With the advancement in computing technology and information processing speed, AI has taken giant leaps in recent years and started disrupting the complete landscape of our public and personal lives, offers an alternative to the human efforts with smart machines. We have never seen human absence in whatever we did yesterday, but today at many places we find machines with artificial intelligence are making trained labour redundant. If the cars can be without drivers, airports can be run without human intervention or planes could be flown without pilots, then it is very much possible to replicate a ‘Security Guard’ by some human look alike robots which will be doing all the jobs. It can be used as a well-trained guard on the gate or on the ‘Watch Tower’ or doing perimeter patrol which can even do fire-fighting as it can be designed to walk through the smoke and help in evacuation and so on.
It also must be brought here that although AI has started making disruptions in a big way in many commercial activities specially in a field where human labour is challenged due to emotions, security, fatigue and requirement of precision. It is still opaque, probably too early to say or predict the actual usage of AI in Security business. but it is sure that present security systems will be replaced by Artificially Intelligent systems with much superior capability than that of a normal guard or a present-day IP based sensor. S till moot question remains: whether the entire Security business be outsourced to the robotics or not? If yes, fully or partially? Can it replicate human intelligence in rational decision making or will it disrupt the ‘Command and Control’ function too? It may not be possible to make a comprehensive and definitive reasoning about ‘AI and Future of Security Business’ at this stage, but ‘morning shows the day’ saying would be apt to predict that it is high time that the community must begin to note and discuss the subject in detail.
Disruptive Powers of Artificial Intelligence
Throughout the history of mankind, it is believed that it is the intelligence of human species that has put the homo-sapiens at the top of the food chain of the planet because of it’s crafting of ‘arms’ and cooperation strategies with the other species. But time has come and the homo sapiens have found ways to replace the same human intelligence if not better, with a new tool known as Artificial intelligence. The computation speed of machines, interpretation of information (data) with accuracy and the capability to take decisions and actions like human beings is no more fiction but a reality. If the recent introduction of tools that are knowledge laden and capable of human actions, then one may suggest that soon it may offset the balance of Power between the ‘creator’ and ‘the creation’ itself. The speed at which AI has grown in last two decades has thrown open many vistas in its usage. It has already shown the disruptive powers in many fields and challenging human endeavours at a different level of expertise which were unheard or unthought of e.g. ‘Deep Learning Tools’ like ‘Deep Blue’ challenging the Grandmasters of Chess which is believed to be epitome of analytical capability and prediction of human reactions, machine translators on your laptop/smart phones, online locational information and mobility applications in every car, precision and conducting pin pointed precision surgery. It has sprung an awe-inspiring surprise with winking eyed, smiley lady Sofia. Recently Google has introduced Alexa, the traditional help at home and office sooner than expected. These developments are not limited to softer applications at home and commercial domains with limited human intelligence but the Human-Computer Interface (HCI) scientists predict that by mid of this century, AI may surpass average human intelligence and may be moving towards developing emotionally sensitive and ‘artificially conscious’ machines. It may also be possible that every person would be assisted by an equally intelligent and emotionally programmed robot as an aid at an affordable price, cheaper than human labour. Although, physical presence of Security guards will continue for few more years or say a decade but surely AI has arrived and soon it will occupy much larger space in Security business.
Applications and Vulnerabilities
It goes without saying that the future of the security business will be highly automated and with far superior monitoring capability and majority of the systems will be connected with central ‘Command and Control’ systems with high level of Analytics. It may also be possible that physical deployment of guards will be further reduced and limited to the ‘Personal Protection’ but the use of robots with AI will be all pervasive with a wider reach, deeper search capability with greater stealth. But it has also a flip to it and these AI based systems can be crippled by launching cyberattacks on Critical Security Infrastructures (CSI) amongst many other sensitive infrastructures like rail, road, aviation and waterways networks, financial institutions and health etc without moving any resources physically. Often, these attacks organised and orchestrated from the systems that are located far and beyond and forensic analysis is not capable enough to pin point of origin of these attacks. Although advantages of AI appear to be many but malfunctioning of the same or misuse by a hacker/cracker or a jacker can wreak havoc, which are at this moment part of imagination.
It will be fair to assume that the future of the Security business is going to be more automated, artificially intelligent with deep looking capabilities. They will be remotely operated and facilitated by engineers with specialisation and experience in this domain. The traditional guards, present day sensors and rudimentary defensive mechanisms by then would have moved to AI platforms and will be brought to bear on the targets very swiftly (in split seconds) as the ‘ Observation -> Orient -> Decision -> Action ’ (OODA) Loop will be highly shrunk due to automation and window of opportunity will be very constricted in terms of time and space. Since companies across the nations will continue to prepare for all-out cut throat competition, it is worthwhile to consider and discuss the impact of AI in the Security Business.
It is for sure that the security operations specially in sensitive places will be replaced with robots and systems which will be highly developed and evolved with artificial intelligence. Era of the present-day semi-literate/ low IQ guards will be gone due to cheap and smart ‘Robot-Guards’ with precision knowledge and actions (customised). Thus, impact to the security business at this level will be high but the service delivery is expected to be much superior quality and may be taken over by IT service providing companies. Not only the physical guards and passive sensors will be replaced by smart counterparts but also it is also possible that many of the traditional operations like Patrols, observation from watch towers, frisking and even to dispose of human bombs, mail bombs, robots with all-pervasive, deep penetrating sensors and precision neutralising capability may be used. The world has already experienced the capabilities of high endurance drones that was launched to neutralise a terrorist leader in Pakistan. It is possible that these drones will be further developed, armed with high level of decision-making capabilities and will be used to launch precision and disruptive attacks against any intrusion, lone wolf or terror attacks like 26/11 inside a building (High Rise). Similarly, AI can be used for information gathering or reconnaissance in an event of fire accident in High Rise Building from an elevated platform and conduct precision tasks in fire-fighting and evacuation. There is very little doubt that the AI will have much bigger role to play in every aspect of human endeavour. On the other hand, it must also be remembered that although these machines may not suffer from psychological dilemma and fatigue, but it is susceptible to cyberattacks and an intelligent adversary can take effective control of the same information systems and turn the table with the same robotic machines.