The Pentagon is getting serious about AI weapons

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Aerospace engineer Mike Griffin says he is taking the threat of drone swarms seriously, including those that could be powered by artificial intelligence. So is your employer, the US Department of Defense. UU., Like the high officials of the US Air Force. UU
The threat is no longer theoretical. During a Washington, DC conference on the future of war sponsored by the non-profit think tank New America, Griffin, a former director of the space program, who in February became undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, noted A small swarm of drones in January attacked a Russian air base in Syria.
"Certainly, human-directed weapons systems can deal with one or two or a few drones if they see them coming, but can they deal with 103?" Griffin asked. "If they can deal with 103, which I doubt, can they deal with 1,000?"
Griffin's comments came during a conversation about how to deal with drones and other weapons equipped with artificial intelligence, in which he advocated greater efforts in both offensive and defensive weapons. "In an advanced society," he said, "AI and cyber and some of these other newer realms offer possibilities to our opponents for [target others successfully] and we must make sure it does not surprise us."
"Certainly, the systems of weapons directed by humans can deal with one or two or some drones … but can they deal with 103?"
He asked for a more serious job from the Pentagon, saying: "There may be an artificial intelligence arms race, but we're not in it yet." The adversaries of the United States, he said, "understand very well the possible usefulness of machine learning." I think it's time we did it too. "
His support explained, in part, a proposed proposed expansion of the Defense Department's own drones force. An April 9 report from the Drone Study Center at Bard College said the Department of Defense's budget for unscrewed systems and technologies for 2019 includes an increase of 25 percent from 2018, which would allow it to reach $ 9.39 billion. That proposal includes funds for 3,447 new aerial, terrestrial and maritime drones. In 2018, the budget required only 807 new drones, according to the report.
The offensive side of drone technology is further away than the defensive side, particularly when swarms are in question. "There is no testable and optimal scheme" to defend against such swarms, Griffin said. So, the Pentagon could, as a result, have to build only "a pretty good scheme." Otherwise, the enemy will have an undeniable opportunity to succeed.
"There may be an artificial intelligence arms race, but we're not in it yet."
Some technology experts are nervous about the accelerated momentum toward weapon systems that use artificial intelligence to make key decisions about attacks. In Geneva this week, representatives of 120 member nations of the United Nations began discussing a possible ban on weapons infused with lethal AI into a forum organized by a United Nations group known as the Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) of the Convention. on Conventional Weapons (CCW) in Lethal Systems of Autonomous Weapons (LAWS).
The United States should "commit to negotiate a legally binding treaty without delay to establish the limits of future autonomy in weapons systems," Mary Wareham, defense director of the Arms Division of Human Rights Watch, told the CCW. Such a treaty should "prevent the development, production and use of fully autonomous weapons".
On the other hand, last week, thousands of Google employees wrote a letter protesting the participation of the technological giant in the "pioneer" artificial intelligence program of the Pentagon, known as Project Maven. It is a mission led by the Office of the Secretary of Defense to process tactical drone video "in support of the Defeat-ISIS campaign", according to an April 2017 memorandum from Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert O. Work, who created the project .
The proposal includes funds for 3,447 new aerial, terrestrial and maritime drones
The budget documents describe Project Maven as a program that develops artificial intelligence, machine learning and computer vision algorithms to "detect, classify and track objects" seen in video captured by drones and other "Intelligence, surveillance and recognition" tools. Basically it is a method to select terrorists that could be attacked with guided missiles.
While the program is currently intended to help analyze downloaded video transmissions, the Pentagon ultimately wants to adjust the sensors with analytical equipment, which gives machines the ability to make decisions in real time. The Pentagon also wants to "support the rapid expansion of AI to other areas of the mission," the budget documents say.
It is assumed that the Pentagon's general "algorithmic war" effort will get tens of millions of dollars of new funds into Trump's military budget for fiscal year 2018. The Pentagon requested more than $ 93 million specifically for the Maven Project in the year fiscal 2019, according to the documents. That's an increase of $ 70 million in 2017, according to a Pentagon spokeswoman.
It is assumed that the "algorithmic war effort" will get tens of millions of dollars of new funding
These are some of the reasons why Google employees expressed concern. "We believe that Google should not be in the business of war," said the letter, addressed to Google CEO Sundar Pichai, requesting that the company complete its work on the project. "Building this technology to help the US government in military surveillance, and potentially lethal results, is not acceptable."
When asked about the Google controversy at the New America conference, General Stephen W. Wilson, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Air Force, played down the concerns of Google employees and said the only problem with the program is that It has not been explained with enough care. "To make things clear, what we are doing with Project Maven is that we are trying to take into account, in the routine, the processing of images," he said.
"This is where artificial intelligence goes."
"You may have an intelligence analyst and, after a training period, he or she can do it well 75 percent of the time," Wilson explained. "Average computers can do 1,000 images per minute with 99 percent accuracy, so how can I take advantage of this human-machine equipment and let computers do what computers are good at, and let humans do what they do? humans are good, and then discover ideas and why and analysis instead of competitive tasks? "
"This is where artificial intelligence goes," he added.
Wilson suggested that he is also an AI enthusiast. "I think it will lead us all to work together in the academy, in the industry, in the departments, in all the national laboratories … and to bring them together in this competition with AI because that is, in fact, what they are doing China".
Tate Nurkin, a defense and security analyst at IHS Aerospace, a London-based financial research firm, also sounded an alarm at the conference on China's massive state AI research program. He said that China's advances in artificial intelligence could "fundamentally change competition with the United States" and mentioned a swarm of 1,180 drones that the Chinese company EHang showed in December at the Global Fortune Forum in Guangzhou. The country has said it wants to become the world leader in AI by 2030.
The Center for Public Integrity is a non-profit research news organization in Washington, DC.


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