The US Military Doesn’t Want to Use True Artificial Intelligence

Although artificial intelligence is starting to play an active role in many aspects of our lives, particularly in government circles, where leaders are trying to get ahead of the technological curve; when it comes to the military, they don’t really want true AI, as reported by a former deputy defence secretary.

Bob Work, who served as deputy defence secretary under Presidents Obama and Trump, said Tuesday during a speech at the annual SAP NS2 Solutions Summit that he’s not talking about Skynet’s or Terminators. Those are what you would call an artificial general intelligence-type weapon. They’re looking for narrow AI systems that can compose courses of action to achieve the tasks that the machine is given and it can choose among the courses of action.

Work made a significant distinction between general AI and more narrow forms—what he preferred to call machine intelligence and algorithmic warfare.

He explained that improved autonomy is going to be the natural result of machine intelligence and artificial intelligence is always used. However, Work thinks machine intelligence is more accurate. It’s the programmed ability to process information and, this is vital, to make decisions as well as or better than human beings, and more rapidly.

For example, a smart missile that can assess a situation and select the best target based on preset parameters. In this example, the missile detects an enemy tank formation, ascertains which is the command tank and picks the most lethal form of attack to take down the enemy.

Work highlighted that the above example is a good thing. It’s an entirely autonomous weapon, and it will do what it’s asked to do. It won’t say, ‘I woke up this morning and 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.

Work also referenced the department’s Project Maven, a high-profile Pentagon program that became famous when Google employees petitioned their company to remove itself from the project for ethical reasons. The former deputy secretary remarked that the actual name inside the Pentagon is the Algorithmic Warfare Cross-Functional Team, with a focus on merging human and machine intelligence in a way that improves human decision-making.

Work concluded that human-machine collaboration is using machines to make better human decisions. The human is always in front regarding DOD thinking.


Image Credit: Pushish Images / Shutterstock


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