NationalVolume 14 Issue # 09

Pakistan and Artificial Intelligence

The Pakistan army has urged the media again to play its “effective role in projecting a soft image of Pakistan as it did to shape public opinion against terrorism”.  Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor said : “Pakistan is facing a hybrid or fifth generation war in which media plays an important role to make and change perceptions of the people, especially young people. The Pakistani media should play its constructive role in this war and project positive sides of the country for six months”.


Addressing a news conference in Rawalpindi on 6 December, he said, “We have fought wars, lost half of our country, tackled terrorism, rendered sacrifices — our economy suffered from it — but today we are at a watershed in history from where the situation can be turned towards betterment.”

Prime Minister Imran Khan has also acknowledged the Indian media’s power in spreading false news, propaganda and spoiling the peace efforts in these words: “Unfortunately the Indian media has given Kartarpur [border opening] a political colour, as if we did this to gain some sort of political mileage […] This is not true”. “The Sikh community has responded very positively to the effort [to open the Kartarpur border]. It is to them what Madinah is to us Muslims. We hope that India will also respond positively in return,” Prime Minister Khan said.

The foreign ministers of India and Pakistan have sent tweets to express their views on this Kartarpou development. Then, American President Trump and the PM Imran Khan have also indulged in a war of words through Twitter. These statements and developments clearly show that the media, including electronic, print and social, has become an indispensable part of politics, the hybrid war and modern life.

But, it is also a fact that the media is now considered only a small part of artificial intelligence and those countries which want to rule the world are trying to get command over artificial intelligence. Pakistan needs to get control over AI to win this hybrid

war. Artificial Intelligence (AI), simply meaning intelligent machines that work and react like humans, has already revolutionised the lives of humans. Machines with intelligence like computers, robots, mobiles, bots, drones, google maps, Facebook, etc., are rendering meritorious services to humanity. With its marvellous speed, communication skill and matchless accuracy, AI has turned the world into a global village, where territorial boundaries and borders cannot stop the flow of information, modern technology, new ideas and change.

Now, man can have and carry infinite bits of information even in a wallet-size mobile. Trains and cars can drive themselves. The Docklands Light Railway (DLR) is running without a driver in London. Drones are used even for TV coverages and delivery services along with carrying bombs and surveillance purpose. AI is used almost in every field and sector of a developed country like health, education, scientific research, transport, finance and banking, agriculture, defence or military, media, almost all online services and activities like video games, research and search through Google search engine, marketing, advertising, online customer service, translations, etc.  Almost all the important companies like Netflix, Uber, Siri and Cortana, Spotify, Google maps, social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, Tumblr, Pinterest, etc., use AI to run their functions and businesses across the world. Large companies are investing in AI in a big way. According to IDC (International Data Corporation), from 2017 to 2018, worldwide spending on AI and cognitive computing went up by more than 50 percent in twelve months to an estimated $19.1 billion worldwide. In fact, it’s predicted that cognitive and AI spending will grow to $52.2 billion in 2021 and achieve a compound annual growth rate of 46.2 percent over the 2016-2021 forecast period. Experts also predict that AI will contribute $15.7 trillion to the world’s economy by 2030. In short, advances in machine learning and algorithms have brought about all-sweeping changes in the world.

In the coming years, AI will have lasting effects – positive or negative, constructive or destructive – on human beings and societies of the world. Many experts are of the views that AI will cost humans their jobs. Scientists, quoting a survey of more than 350 experts, asserts that AI will beat man almost in every field of life by 2060 and all human jobs will be replaced with machines within the next 120 years. “In the next 10 years, we should have AI do better than humans in translating languages by 2024, writing high-school-level-essays by 2026, writing top 40 songs by 2028 and driving trucks, working in retail by 2031, writing a bestselling book by 2049, and surgery by 2053”. Some experts even claim that AI could even destroy the very existence of humans on this planet. Stephen Hawking, an English theoretical physicist and Noble Prize winner, warns “the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of humanity. It would take off on its own, and re-design itself at an ever- increasing rate.”  On the other hand, some experts believe that by using AI, man can solve pressing problems like saving biodiversity, tackling environmental issues, curing diseases, eradicating poverty, spreading education and bringing about social good. Rafael Reif, the President of MIT, in his 2017 speech, asserts that AI will not cause unemployment. Rather it will bring prosperity in the world provided all the governments, organisations, unions, etc., resolve to use it for the betterment of entire humanity.

There is no doubt that AI is a very powerful weapon which can be used even to control the minds and change the behaviour and actions of human beings. The Cambridge Analytica scandal’s example can be given to testify to the power of AI. Cambridge Analytica, a US consulting company, used a Facebook app developed by psychologist Aleksandr Kogan to access 8 million users’ personal data. After collecting the data, Algorithm created targeted online campaigns for the Brexit referendum (“Leave”) and the 2016 US presidential election. It also shared data with the Russia’s second largest oil firm, Lukoil. Interestingly, both the targets were achieved by using the mighty power of AI.

AI has also become an indispensable part of military applications and the hybrid war. Vladimir Putin already stated in 2017 that “Whoever becomes the leader in (artificial intelligence) will become the ruler of the world”.  Keeping in view the importance of intelligent machines in the coming years, all the important countries of the world are spending money on it. French President Emmanuel Macron promised $1.85 billion to artificial intelligence by 2022.


According to Air Force General VeraLinn Jamieson , China’s total spending on artificial intelligence systems in 2017 was $12 billion. It will grow to at least $70 billion by 2020. The UK government has announced $1.4 billion drive into AI.  The Pentagon will spend $2 billion to put more artificial intelligence into its weaponry.

While these countries are endeavouring their best to spread AI education among their people, Pakistan is doing nothing. Rather its ruling elite, including politicians,  feudal lords, businessmen and religious leaders, is trying its utmost  to use the mighty power of social media for disinforming, misguiding, deceiving, controlling, instigating and brainwashing poor and innocent people.

According to the Nation, Nawaz Sharif used Cambridge Analytica to change the behaviour of Pakistani masses in favour of the party in Pakistan’s general election. His son made this deal with CA during the Panama scandal case in the Supreme Court of Pakistan. More alarmingly for Pakistan, is that the CA is the political wing of SCL (Strategic Communication Laboratories) Group which worked for the British Ministry of Defense and its intelligence agency MI6. The political wing of the SCL is also openly manipulating Pakistan’s in-house affairs through fake news and it is propagating anti-State narrative against Pakistan by using the money and resources of ousted PM Nawaz Sharif. The rising of the Pashtun movement is staged by this CA/SCL group to strengthen the “greater Punjab” narrative crafted by some.

It is the duty of state institutions to protect the data of citizens and stop foreign meddling in the country. The government should invest money in AI if it wants to save the country and make progress.