Published On: Sun, Nov 4th, 2018

AI Crisis: Pentagon Grappling With Future of Weapons That 'Make Their Own Decisions'

The Department of Defense wants to make sure that in an increasingly technological world, an AI missile "will do what it's asked to do" — and not make its own decision, Defense One reported.

In remarks at the annual SAP NS2 Solutions Summit, Bob Work, who served as deputy defense secretary under President Donald Trump and former President Barack Obama, insisted "Human-machine collaboration is using machines to make better human decisions."

"The human is always in front in terms of DOD thinking," he said, Defense One reported, adding: "We are not talking about Skynets, and we're not talking about Terminators."

"Those are what you would call an artificial general intelligence-type weapon," he explained, Defense One reported. "We're looking for narrow AI systems that can compose courses of action to accomplish the tasks that the machine is given, and it can choose among the courses of action."

There is a difference between general AI and machine intelligence and algorithmic warfare, he said, Defense One reported.

"Improved autonomy is going to be the natural result of machine intelligence," he said. "We always use artificial intelligence, but I think machine intelligence is more accurate. It's the programmed ability to process information and, this is key, to make decisions as well as or better than human beings, and faster."

For example, he said, a smart missile is able to assess a situation, choose the best target based on preset parameters — and then determine which is the command tank and the most lethal form of attack.

"That is a good thing," he said, Defense One reported. "It's a totally autonomous weapon and it will do what it's asked to do.

"It won't say, 'Hey, I woke up this morning, and I decided I want to shoot down an airplane.' A general AI system sets its own goals and can change them. No one in the Department of Defense is saying we ought to go toward those type of weapons."

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AI Crisis: Pentagon Grappling With Future of Weapons That 'Make Their Own Decisions'