Dozens of autonomous war machines capable of deadly force conducted a field training exercise south of Seattle last August. The exercise involved no human operators but strictly robots powered with artificial intelligence, seeking mock enemy combatants.
The exercise, organized by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, a blue-sky research division of the Pentagon, armed the robots with radio transmitters designed to simulate a weapon firing. The drill expanded the Pentagon’s understanding of how automation in military systems on the modern battlefield can work together to eliminate enemy combatants.
“The demonstrations also reflect a subtle shift in the Pentagon’s thinking about autonomous weapons, as it becomes clearer that machines can outperform humans at parsing complex situations or operating at high speed,” according to WIRED.
It’s undeniable artificial intelligence will be the face of warfare for years to come. Military planners are moving ahead with incorporating autonomous weapons systems on the modern battlefield.
General John Murray of the US Army Futures Command told an audience at the US Military Academy in April that swarms of robots will likely force the military to decide if a human needs to intervene before a robot engages the enemy. Murray asked: “Is it within a human’s ability to pick out which ones have to be engaged” and then make 100 individual decisions? “Is it even necessary to have a human in the loop?” he added.
Michael Kanaan, director of operations for the Air Force Artificial Intelligence Accelerator at MIT and a top voice on artificial intelligence in the military, told a crowd at the conference in the Air Force last week that computers are rapidly evolving in how they are identifying and distinguishing potential targets while humans decide to engage.