ISIS military strategies being decoded by AI

7 Aug 2015

Researchers have developed an artificial intelligence (AI) program to better predict the military strategies of Islamic State (ISIS).

As a paramilitary organisation, ISIS continues to spread its influence in the Middle East, with news of executions and hostile takeovers of towns and cities ever-present in the news, and most efforts to quell this have been futile.

Now, however, a team of researchers has claimed that it has developed an AI program that could do something like what the Enigma machine did for the Allies during World War II, in that it could predict ISIS’ military strategies.

In a paper published online titled Mining for Causal Relationships: A Data-Driven Study of the Islamic State, the team from Arizona State University said that its program has already made some interesting discoveries.

To calculate military strategies the team – which includes a former US army officer who served in Iraq back in 2006 – created an algorithm that analysed 2,200 records during the second half of last year.

ISIS patterns emerging

According to the BBC, with this information the AI program was able to determine that, during that time period, there had been a noticeable spike in the number of incidents of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in the region.

Other findings of the team showed that the number of bombs planted in vehicles would increase prior to large infantry operations.

Another more curious finding showed a jump in arrests made by ISIS following air strikes against them, with a conclusion being drawn that it is part of an effort to find informers from the Syrian government.

Speaking to the BBC, Elizabeth Quintana, director of military sciences at the Royal United Services Institute, said that it is inevitable that AI programs such as this are needed to quantify the huge amounts of military data now available.

“The military has access to a lot of information,” Quintana said, “They need a way to bring it down to a digestible format. Analytics is definitely the way to do that.”

Kurdistan fighters fighting ISIS image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic