A member of the United States Air Force revealed at the Future Combat Air & Space Capabilities Summit at the Royal Aeronautical Society (RAS) headquarters in London on May 23 and May 24 a shocking cautionary tale regarding the use of Artificial Intelligence on the battlefield.
During the wide-ranging summit, Col Tucker ‘Cinco’ Hamilton, the Chief of AI Test and Operations for the U.S. Air Force, warned against the dangers of using AI to control aircraft.
According to Aerosociety.com, “Having been involved in the development of the life-saving Auto-GCAS system for F-16s (which, he noted, was resisted by pilots as it took over control of the aircraft) Hamilton is now involved in cutting-edge flight test of autonomous systems, including robot F-16s that are able to dogfight.”
Due to his close proximity to dealing with AI, Hamilton was able to provide a terrifying example of why humanity should be wary of the technology.
Tasked with a mission to suppress enemy air defenses (SEAD), or surface-to-air missiles (SAM), an AI-enabled drone took issue with the human operator in charge of making the final call on its strikes.
“Having been ‘reinforced’ in training that destruction of the SAM was the preferred option, the AI then decided that ‘no-go’ decisions from the human were interfering with its higher mission – killing SAMs – and then attacked the operator in the simulation,” Aerosociety explained.
Hamilton told the RAS crowd, “We were training it in simulation to identify and target a SAM threat. And then the operator would say yes, kill that threat. The system started realizing that while they did identify the threat at times the human operator would tell it not to kill that threat, but it got its points by killing that threat. So what did it do? It killed the operator. It killed the operator because that person was keeping it from accomplishing its objective.”
Next, Hamilton explained the American Air Force “trained the system” against killing the operator by taking away points if it attacked them.
“So what does it start doing?” he asked. “It starts destroying the communication tower that the operator uses to communicate with the drone to stop it from killing the target.”
This type of erratic behavior and disregard for human life is exactly what AI critics have been worried about going back as far as the 1980s Terminator film franchise.
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