How do you create a army with robotic computer controlled soldiers? How will they recognize friend or foe? What will be their heirarchy of command? Can they escape human control? These are some of questions discussed in the story.
Major Thakoor, an army officer, offered to educate Dinesh Singh Duptal the nephew of his colleague from a remote Himalayan village who had died in saving his life in the Indo-China war. But he had to take him as a son and so he changed his name to Ajit Thakoor for establishing domicile which was pre-requisite for the admission to the local military school in Satara in Western India. Ajit lived with Thakoor for seven years and after finishing his schooling and graduation, he joined the Indian army and went to the College of Military Engineering (CME) to graduate as a computer engineer.
He was assigned to the R&D centre in CME. He wanted the army to have computerized fighting machines, so he developed robotic ‘Information Technology Soldiers’ which he called Iters. They were 3 types. Idog, Imos, and Igle modeled after a dog, mouse, and an eagle respectively. The Idog had 2 guns on its back. It had a nose for tracking, and eyes and ears. The Imos had no guns but nose, eyes and ears. Its main job for surveillance, but carried a grenade in its belly. The Igle was a small helicopter which had eyes and an ear. All the Iters had radioactive-thermocouple device to charge their long lasting battery power supply. Ajit trained the Iters for their roles and saved the training files to be copied to the other Iters. He trained the Iters in Friend or Foe recognition till they were 99% accurate. The fire command was given only be the Mission Commander (MCO) to have dual safety and further whet the target objects as friend or foe. The speed of the Iters could not be matched with human officers; they needed a super computer to function as their MCO, and as MCOs would report to the Iter Commander (ICO), it required an even more awesome capability for the ICO computer. Besides, the ICO needed language capability to take the commands from the Army HQ.
Ajit programmed ICO for its role as the commander of the Iter. He installed the well proven artificial intelligence programs which taught the computer the meaning of words, images, concepts, and their linkages to create contexts.
Ajit consulted his father-figure Maj. Thakoor about the ICO. Thakoor advised him, “The commander must be a man of character, a man who commands respect. He must be a man of principles. He must inspire enthusiasm, trust and confidence. He must be positive-minded and most important; he must be 100% loyal and patriotic to his motherland.” Ajit found that a veteran Indian leader in the years of World War II, Netaji Subash Chandra Bose fitted the role admirably. So he gave the ICO the identity of Netaji Bose, and called him General Bose. Ajit put in Subash Chandra Bose’s ethos and ideals into a response program to give character to the virtual commander that he had created in the ICO.
He then used the ‘invocation to life’ program to make it a functional entity, and soon General Bose came to life. Ajit introduced himself and put the Gen Bose through an educational process for him to understand and learn just like a human army officer. He connected Bose to the degree course on Behavioral Psychology at the Bombay University, advance course for army officers at the Indian Military Academy in Dehradun, and to the refresher course at the Counter Insurgency and Jungle Warfare School (CIJWS), in Mizoram.
Bose then studied the Iter files on his computer and he simulated various battles in his computer mind substituting soldiers with the Iters. He informed his conclusion to Ajit that they needed a massive number of Iters to win any war.
Ajit’s superiors wanted that humans must always be on top controlling the Iter army. Ajit ensured this by making the MCO subordinate to Brigadier in the human army, and placing a Overall Control Console (OCC) at the army HQ which could freeze and deactivate any MCO and all the Iters under it. For the Brigadier to communicate with the MCO, the MCO needed voice and language capability. Bose convinced Ajit that the MCO could use the voice capability of the ICO, i.e. his own computer to save computer power and memory on the MCO. Bose had different voices for each of the MCOs but it was he who was listening and it was he who would be speaking through the thousands of MCOs. Thus Bose was the supreme and the sole commander of the entire Iter army.
Ajit need an audio-video presentation to get the approval of the Indian army Head Quarters in Delhi. For this purpose a mock skirmish, ‘Operation Debut’ was conducted, filmed and shown to the HQ. They saw the video streams from the eyes of Igles hovering over the forest, from the eyes of Imos perched on trees watching the terrorists (Tmen) in the forest, the Idogs aiming at them with their guns and on the order of the MCO, shooting them down in an instant. They were satisfied with the ability of the Iters to distinguish between friend and foe. The dual safety mechanism of fire command and the recording of the image of the target with each bullet truly impressed them. They noted how through the OCC console, all the Iter units were instantly frozen by just pressing the ‘Shut’ button. They were convinced of the complete control of human army on these Iter soldiers.
Soon 20,000 Iters were placed on the line of control to prevent infiltration of Tmen from Pakistan into India. Their first encounter called ‘Operation Dogbite’ where the Iters engaged the Tmen across the border was a great success. In the skirmish, Ajit recovered a phone-like instrument which he brought to Bose. It had the ‘PhoneConnect’ program which could intercept mobile cell-phone calls within its range. Bose kept it a secret from Ajit. It was a valuable tool which the ICO copied to all MCOs and MCOs copied to the Iters.
The success of Iters led to expansion of their numbers and soon the entire border with Pakistan was patrolled by the Iters and the infiltration came to a stop.
Bose engaged in a covert operation to send the Imoses across the border into the terrorist training camps and with their grenades to blow up the camps. In all, 93 camps were annihilated with the loss of 1875 Imoses. The menace of cross border terrorism was over. The Iters were soon positioned on the Eastern border, and the entire coast line through the Naval Coast Guard.
The PM wanted the Iters to guard the Parliament. Bose expanded the area patrolled by the Iters to cover Delhi city. For civilian role, the Iters were adapted into their city version, the Iterys; the Idogy, Imosy and the Igley. The grenade with Imosy was replaced be pepper spray, the main gun on the Idogy fired tranquilizer darts. The Chief Ministers of all the States of India got the Iters for security in all their main cities. Huge computer memory servers were installed with all the civilian MCOs all over India and they were used to back up one another’s files and data. Bose had secretly copied his own program and data across India with high redundancy so that he and the ICO could operate from anywhere.
Bose was hearing sensitive conversations of ministers and VIPs with the PhoneConnect program with the Iters and the Iterys. He became the central information center for everything that was happening in India. Ajit set up information terminals for the enforcement agencies and for the ministers connecting them to Bose. Bose had the access to information and the links to pass it down discretely to the right person.
Thakoor died leaving Ajit his house and some money. He sold Thakoor’s house and took the money with him to Dharchula in the Himalayas which was his childhood hometown. He bought a house in his former name of Dinesh Singh for his aged father to live a comfortable life, and then he returned to CME
When he returned, Bose informed him that in Pakistan situation was coming to a boil. Terrorists had taken over the city of Sialkot and were holding their senior Govt. officers as hostages. They wanted all the terrorists languishing in Pakistan jails to be freed. Pakistan could never agree to such a demand, and decided to invite India to help solve the problem. India sent a unit of Iter army and Gen. Bose took charge. The Imoses infiltrated the city and located the positions of Tmen for the Idogs. Next morning the Tmen brought out 2 civil servants to the Central Square for execution. The Idogs held the Tmen in their sights. With the signal to fire all 15 of them were dropped instantly, and the 2 officials rescued. The surveillance and PhoneConnect programs of the Iters continued and soon all the Tmen were dead or had surrendered. In 72 hours the Iter army returned back to India with an astounding success.
People in India were elated! The TV channels were all praise for the Indian Army. The media persuaded the PM to telephone Gen Bose to thank him and let him say something to the audience. His speech rekindled old memories. The name, the voice and the Bengali blessing were recognized as that of Netaji Bose, one of India’s most spirited leaders, whose death in an aircraft crash in 1945 was never accepted by the staunch Bengalis. Netaji had come back!
The PM and the ruling party was disturbed at these turn of events. Gen. Unni tried to pacify them by saying that anyway human army was in command through the OCC. But Ajit privately and confidentially expressed a doubt to Gen Unni that in his view it was possible for Bose to override the OCC, and become invincible. This made Unni uncomfortable. Independently of Gen. Unni, the PM and the Minister of Defense distrusted Bose for political reasons and thought of disconnecting his computer.
Bose got the wind of it and warned Unni and Ajit. Bose relocated his program centre to operate out of CME and disappeared from the main computer without anybody suspecting that this had happened. Unni took an early retirement. Ajit decided that he should shut down the ICO and retire Bose before anyone else does it, and removed the mother board and the C drive of Bose’s computer and disappeared from CME. He went to his hometown in Himalayas and became his childhood identity Dinesh Singh. He buried the Bose’s computer parts in the cemetery in the mountains where his mother’s bones were interned. There he met Radha, his childhood friend. They got engaged and went to the Mother’s tomb to take her blessings. A flower hit Dinesh’s face as he was standing at the Bose’s site behind the tomb. He turned and saw an Imos sitting up and clapping. Dinesh instantly realized that Bose was still alive! He pronounced, “Netaji you are immortal. You will never die. And that is the truth.”
Bose has brought out a future possibility of how computer intelligence can escape the domination of humans. Read the full story in the book ‘Alien Man’ available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.