Technology Oriented Think Tank- STM Thinktech, Addresses the Future of Artificial Intelligence in Counter-Terrorism

Issue 89 - January 2019

Turkey’s first technology-oriented think tank STM Thinktech, in its third panel held under the title “New Player in Counter-Terrorism: Artificial Intelligence”, addressed the highly debated issue that the whole world is invested in.

The Presidency of The Republic Of Turkey, President of Defence Industries Prof. Dr. İsmail DEMİR, Turkish General Staff Head of General Planning and Principles Department, Air Force Major General Reha Ufuk ER, President of the Presidential Digital Transformation Office Dr. Ali Taha KOÇ, President of TÜBİTAK- BİLGEM Prof. Dr. Hacı Ali MANTAR, and Bilkent University Department of International Relations Academic Member Prof. Dr. Ersel AYDINLI attended the panel moderated by journalist Hakan ÇELİK at the Ankara Sheraton Hotel on the 25th of December.a

In his opening speech, STM General Manager Murat İKİNCİ stated that STM has transformed its existing consulting experience, knowledge, data analysis & processing capability, technological infrastructure and human resource power into technology-based projections with ThinkTech. İKİNCİ said: “We contribute to Turkey on its way to becoming a regional and global power with our predictions, scenarios and the panels we will continue to realize. Today, we address the future and effects of implementing artificial intelligence in new defence strategies, especially in the fight against terrorism. We aim to meet the information needs of decision makers in a strategic and sustainable manner.”

Following the opening speech, the panel under the title of “New Player in Counterterrorism: Artificial Intelligence” moderated by journalist Hakan ÇELİK was started.

Prof. İsmail DEMİR stated that artificial intelligence with increasing interest and expanding fields of application, has ceased to be a subject that only concerns scientists and it has become a topic of discussion regarding countries and hence all humanity. Prof. İsmail DEMİR continued his words as follows: “As the Presidency of Defence Industries, in the recent period, we issued a wide area call for “artificial intelligence” and “robotic systems”. So far, approximately 120 companies have applied for the call. We consider the basis of this study as an attempt to identify and reveal the companies working in these fields. What lies behind artificial intelligence and intelligent systems is hardware. When we talk about artificial intelligence, the processing speed appears as the most prominent factor. Currently, studies are being conducted on Quantum calculations. We expect TÜBİTAK and our universities to closely follow the theoretical part of the work in the scientific field and the studies carried out in the R&D field. When certain products emerge in the future, if we lack information about their basic R&D, it may be too late for us.”

Indicating that the key to combating terrorism is intelligence, Prof. DEMİR stated that artificial intelligence has a very important role in the acquisition of intelligence. Prof. DEMİR said: “The emerging pattern as a result of interpreting and processing the billions of data you have collected as well as utilizing big data analytics and related hardware & software will be extremely valuable for you. The other part of the fight against terrorism, the fight against the terrorists, is located at the tip of the pyramid. What should be done before reaching that point, is to conduct a serious study on intelligence activities, public communication, and thinking methods and notion process of the human brain. The development of military capabilities and security strategies of a country are directly related to technology. When strategic, economic and technological foresight are used together, it is possible to build a defence capacity that can respond to modern requirements. From this point of view, STM through the Thinktech Center will provide a significant contribution to the defence power and national security of Turkey.”

Prof. İsmail DEMİR also noted that the main characteristics of artificial intelligence are fast decision-making, self-improvement, foresight, autonomy, renewal, performance, education, reconnaissance, intelligence and underlined the importance of the studies on this subject.

Emphasizing that they are in the process of forming the infrastructure in determining the national strategy in artificial intelligence, Prof. DEMİR said: “Developing simulation programs based on Big Data makes it possible to observe hundreds of thousands of similar iterations of events by changing multiple parameters before the events occur. Havelsan and STM are conducting studies on this subject. Big Data is highly crucial in this regard. Hundreds of methods can be generated on how to analyze and utilize large data via artificial intelligence. I also believe the hardware aspect should not be overlooked. There is an example of Quantum Computing. When quantum computing becomes a reality in the future, if we are unable to acquire this hardware, even if we want to buy it and are faced with competitors with processing capacity in the field that is millions of times faster, that will mean that we have already lost this game from the beginning.”

Prof. DEMİR emphasized the importance of education, human resources, simulation environments, analysis of hardware and software compatibility in artificial intelligence and said that these issues were included in their agenda.

President of the Presidential Digital Transformation Office Ali Taha KOÇ: “We will publish the Artificial Intelligence Strategy in 2019”

President of the Presidential Digital Transformation Office Ali Taha KOÇ started his speech by saying that the Presidential Digital Transformation Office was established in order to ensure the digitalization and coordination of all the ministries. “We take the inventory of e-government services of all Ministries and try to create an integrated structure. So far, each ministry has been providing services on its own. We are aiming to create an integrated structure and turn it into a user-friendly service.”

KOÇ underlined that data transfer in the world is increasing day by day and that the data produced in a year all over the world in 1999 is now produced within a single day. “Artificial intelligence requires a large amount of data to function and social media is the primary source of this data. However, can all these data be properly analyzed? If we try to analyze the daily data with manpower, we will never get a result. Because of this, artificial intelligence will be used as a tool for analyzing the increased data as a result of digitalization. This large data used on a daily basis not only consists of social media but also websites, blogs, and call detail records (CDR). Closed circuit systems (urban security cameras) also produce a large amount of data. There is no point in acquiring this data if we cannot utilize it. The People’s Republic of China has established a company for this purpose and provided almost 2 billion images to the company for analysis. When you have the data, you can develop the algorithms. This company has made significant progress on face recognition technology which is frequently used in the fight against terrorism because it had access to 2 billion records. There are some problems with data sharing in developing countries like ours. If you want to develop a successful algorithm for artificial intelligence, you will need data.”

Stating that the technology called reinforcement learning will become prominent in the future, KOÇ said: “Drones, UAVs, and robotic systems will use this technology in the future. However, I do not think these artificial intelligence systems will be used in the fight against terrorism in the short term. The fight against terrorism is highly erratic and the amount of data is very small, thus I have doubts that artificial intelligence algorithms can be used effectively in the fight against terrorism. The processing speed is increasing each day, but we cannot say the same for battery technologies. After all, if we want to operate unmanned (humanoid) robots in the field, we will need powerful batteries. However, battery technologies are not developing at the desired pace.”

KOÇ also pointed out the importance of logistics in the fight against terrorism: “It will be quite useful in terms of logistics purposes to test and simulate the location of products before they reach their destination by utilizing artificial intelligence in the background.”

KOÇ also stated that the data obtained from Unmanned Aerial Vehicles must be combined with the data obtained from the personnel in the field and continued as follows: “In the fight against terrorism, we need to create a virtual environment including data from the foremost personnel at theater. I believe that by creating virtual environments called digital twins that enable testing of how actions should be taken with simulations generated by artificial intelligence through the data gathered from the cameras and sensors on the personnel will provide extremely valuable support to the command control units in the field.”

KOÇ finished his speech by stating that they will continue to work with all of their partners in this regard and also publish Turkey’s “Artificial Intelligence Strategy Document” in 2019.

Turkish General Staff Head of General Planning and Principles Department, Air Force Major General Reha Ufuk ER: “The Era of Conventional Intelligence is Now Over. It Has Become Almost Impossible to Analyze Intelligence with Classical Methods.”

Turkish General Staff Head of General Planning and Principles Department, Air Force Major General Reha Ufuk ER stated that in the recent period various parameters such as needs, feedback from the field, concepts, doctrines, operational plans etc. were evaluated together in order to define the requirements of the Presidency of Defence Industries, but currently it is not possible to make such a definition due to the rapid change in technological developments. “As we see today the technology is changing so fast that we cannot keep up with these changes with our current methods. When combining technology and needs, we have to use artificial intelligence at every stage. We see that artificial intelligence, big data, and autonomous systems technologies become prominent today. We began to evolve from the classic counter-terrorism operation methods. Terrorist units also follow the technology and apply technology in their tactics. In the coming years, the operations and conflicts will be executed at machine speed. Otherwise, it will not be possible to achieve success with classical methods.”

ER shared the artificial intelligence approach of the Turkish Armed Forces with the participants: “The era of conventional intelligence is now over. Today, data is gathered from the field, from anywhere. We have to personally analyze this enormous size of data. You can try to analyze this information together with over 100 personnel. However, these data should be analyzed immediately and must be implemented in the field swiftly. This is a highly challenging field; malicious intelligence can be shared intentionally to mislead you. Therefore, it is almost impossible to analyze these data with classical methods. Detection, identification, wide-area surveillance, information from our UAV systems, all of which should be evaluated within a whole and analyzed in conjunction with the information in the entire media to reach a conclusion. In order to accomplish all of this, we need to develop the necessary software as soon as possible.”

Stating that one of the fields where the artificial intelligence will be widely implemented is logistics, ER said that the supplies could be delivered at the right place at the right time by matching the picture of the operation area with the information gathered from the platforms, systems, and sensors in the field. ER stated that the world began to position itself on this issue: “Logistics brigades, logistics hubs started to be established and software to support these brigades is being developed. It is not possible for a static structure to meet our current logistics needs. We need a dynamic logistics structure supported by software and robotic systems so that we can know what we need where and when in advance and position ourselves.”

Emphasizing that academicians, defence industry companies and soldiers should work together, ER finished his speech by stating that the best solutions to meet today’s needs should not be forgotten while focusing on developing the most perfect technology for the future.

DerinGörü to be Used for the First Time by The Presidency

Stating that several countries have already determined their national artificial intelligence road map in 2017 and 2018, President of the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) Informatics and Information Security Research Center (BİLGEM) Prof. Dr. Hacı Ali MANTAR said that Turkey should also identify a road map in the field of artificial intelligence.

MANTAR also provided information on how artificial intelligence is used in the fight against terrorism: “In the fight against terrorism, artificial intelligence is used with well-known methods such as prediction, financial detection, and prevention of terrorist acts; detection and prevention of propaganda and provocation and additionally in the field of cybersecurity.”

Stating that, as TÜBİTAK, they have been carrying out studies in the field of artificial intelligence to meet the needs of various institutions such as RTÜK, MANTAR said that they have developed a new system called DerinGörü which is a Face Recognition and Intelligent Tourniquet System in order to make the unprotected pass card systems, which are considered a major weakness, much safer. Prof. MANTAR: “Currently, the majority of pass card systems used by the institutions are unprotected. We have analyzed this situation and carried out tests at the request of a related institution. With a US$ 50 device, you can copy the selected cards and pass the security gate. We already have an operating system for electronic IDs that we developed before, we will commission this operating system. We have made the prototypes of this system, which is currently used in TÜBİTAK- BİLGEM, to be employed in other institutions, it works seamlessly. The system has the potential to be used all over Turkey. It will be utilized for the first time by the Presidency.”

In order to prevent the use of smart cards to be used in this system by others, the facial recognition feature is integrated into the system. Prof. MANTAR stated that this feature works simultaneously without any slowdown in the system allowing access through the security gates. Prof. MANTAR stated that the system will be ready for implementation in TÜBİTAK and various public institutions within 1 month and this product can be generalized by a commercial institution via technology transfer.

The last panelist of the session Bilkent University Department of International Relations Academic Member Prof. Dr. Ersel AYDINLI commented on the essence of the fight against terrorism saying, “The success of the fight against terrorism, its future, how it will be shaped, is actually about not falling into the trap or if you’re trapped, it’s about how you respond. We can achieve success if we look at all the examples of terrorism from this point of view. Terrorism is reactive by nature. Your response against it is divided into two, as rational and non-rational. The response of United States America after the September 11 attacks is a good example of non-rational responses in perceiving terror as a war and invading a country. Britain’s response to jihadist organizations is a rational response with regards to maintaining the society, keeping the knowledge broad and having an in-depth knowledge. Terrorist organizations know that they cannot defeat their strong opponent. Their only goal is not to be defeated while planning how to trap and ambush their strong opponent.”

AYDINLI also shared his opinions about how artificial intelligence should be used in the fight against terrorism with the participants: “If you can properly manage true information generation and processing with the use of artificial intelligence in the fight against terrorism, coordination becomes easier and you can make significant moves in strategy development. It gives you the chance to conduct psychological operations a lot earlier and you can predict where the threat will evolve. Thanks to big data and artificial intelligence, you can also institutionalize the experience.”

Following the speeches, the Q&A session started and in the second portion questions from participants were answered by the panelists.