Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Arlington, VA, United States (4E) – The Department of Defense (DoD) has awarded the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) more than $2 billion on programs that will allow Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies to advise and interact with U.S. military officers on the battlefield.
The program to develop “explainable AI” will advance the integration of human and AI intelligence in war and is the Pentagon’s largest investment to date in AI, and confirms the importance U.S. military leaders are now placing on AI and its ability to learn and respond faster than humans. DARPA will lead the way in developing and advancing new technology solutions to military problems
The key output at the end of this five-year long effort will be to make AI systems more trusted and accepted by military commanders, especially on the battlefield. AI-driven computers should also be capable of explaining their decisions to commanders.
“What we’re trying to do with explainable AI is have the machine tell the human ‘here’s the answer, and here’s why I think this is the right answer’ and explain to the human being how it got to that answer,” said DARPA director Steven Walker.
But more controversial is an aspect of this program that will ultimately enable AI algorithms installed in weapons to decide on whether or not to fire on and kill human targets. The development of AI controlled weapons is inevitable. A Pentagon strategy document released in August confirms advances in technology will soon make AI controlled weapons possible.
“DoD does not currently have an autonomous weapon system that can search for, identify, track, select, and engage targets independent of a human operator’s input,” said the report.
But “technologies underpinning unmanned systems would make it possible to develop and deploy autonomous systems that could independently select and attack targets with lethal force,” the report predicted.
Ai systems are technically capable of choosing targets and firing weapons. U.S. military commanders, however, remain been hesitant about surrendering control to an autonomous machine. This reluctance is partly due to the lack of confidence in machine reasoning by U.S. military commanders. This apprehension is especially keen on the battlefield where variables emerge that an AI machine hasn’t previously encountered.
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