The United States military is probably the most technologically advanced. Artificial intelligence, drone, laser, so many technologies that are beginning to be exploited there.
While the US military does use drones today to swell the ranks of its air arsenal, it also uses human operators on the ground to guide such devices, at least until today. Assistant Secretary of the Air Force, Dr. Will Roper, revealed to Popular Mechanics that an artificial intelligence (IA) had taken control of a military plane, a U-2 Dragon Lady surveillance plane in this case, a purely military system, for the very first time as a co-pilot this December 15 during a flight in California.
AI takes control of US military aircraft
ARTUμ, a variant of the μZero artificial intelligence used in some games such as chess, had control of the aircraft via radar during a simulated missile strike on the Beale Air Force base. The system was able to determine when to go into attack mode and when to initiate personal defense. It was this AI that was the leader on this mission. Although she was not in flight, it was she who determined where the human pilot should fly. And there was no resumption of manual control either.
The U-2 FedLab team spent a month training the μZero algorithms to work with radar, train AI to spot enemies and watch out for danger while interacting with a pilot. The improved version ARTUμ was however disconnected from other subsystems to minimize the risks induced by its decision-making.
A very important achievement for the US Air Force
You won’t see an AI participating in combat for a long time, however, even for simple testing. A test flight of AI-guided combat drone is not expected until July 2021, and it is not hard to imagine that these systems are fooled by human ingenuity. For now, the Department of Defense is still working to establish ethical guidelines for artificial intelligence, which include prohibiting computers from launching attacks on their own.
Especially since there is no need for the AI to have full control over the device. Dr. Will Roper sees AI more as an aid to pilots, who could find themselves overtaken in certain “complex” situations. Technology can then help or even take control of certain systems. The army could then gain an advantage over its adversary by allowing its pilots to concentrate on the more delicate elements of a mission.