Do you remember the plot of the film? Terminator, by Arnold Schwarzenegger? The artificial intelligence that flew fighter jets … etc. Science fiction? Not at all. In mid-December, the United States allowed artificial intelligence (AI) to act as co-pilot of a military aircraft. For a former Undersecretary of State in the Air Force, the milestone marks the beginning of an “algorithmic war”. Artificial intelligence in military aircraft is changing the military landscape.
It happened on December 15th. The US Air Force flew a U-2 spy plane in California with a computer-assisted copilot. This was the first time the AI controlled a military system. The algorithm has been programmed to perform a specific task. This is usually done by the pilot. A reconnaissance mission was simulated during a missile attack on an air force base. The system had to find enemy rocket launchers while the pilot searched for his aircraft. The test was completed successfully.
Will Roper, former US Air Force Under-Secretary of State for Procurement, Technology and Logistics, gave details. The algorithm µZero It was originally designed to master games like chess and go. In less than five weeks, however, this commercial algorithm was trained to operate the spy plane’s radar.
Indeed, an era of algorithmic warfare has begun. And as terrifying as it sounds, it takes place on a much larger battlefield. The “weapon” is commercial technology and startups, ”wrote Roper.
The former US Undersecretary of State saw the flight controlled by the algorithm as an advance that could win wars. However, he emphasized that the technology was not developed for military purposes as usual. It was thanks to a commercial tech startup.
The rapid pace of innovation makes it difficult to predict what future wars will look like. Therefore “innovation itself is the new battlefield (…) that is fought daily in every classroom, laboratory, company and every nation.”
“On this battlefield, it is still important to build world-leading armies. But it’s much more important to use it to catalyze the world’s leading innovation foundations, ”said Roper.
Artificial intelligence in military aircraft is a symptom. Technology war, including trade war, becomes a national security issue.