Drones with AI can identify armed and unarmed people at a mock middle east compound

The Pentagon has put artificial intelligence at the center of its strategy to maintain the United States’ position as the world’s dominant military power. It is spending billions of dollars to develop what it calls autonomous and semiautonomous weapons

The Pentagon’s latest budget outlined $18 billion to be spent over three years on technologies that included those needed for autonomous weapons.

Of the $18 billion the Pentagon is spending on new technologies, $3 billion has been set aside specifically for “human-machine combat teaming” over the next five years. It is a relatively small sum by Pentagon standards — its annual budget is more than $500 billion — but still a significant bet on technologies and a strategic concept that have yet to be proved in battle.

At the same time, Pentagon officials say that the United States is unlikely to gain an absolute technological advantage over its competitors.

“A lot of the A.I. and autonomy is happening in the commercial world, so all sorts of competitors are going to be able to use it in ways that surprise us,” Mr. Work said.

A retail-level drone was used by U.S. Military’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency equipped with state-of-the-art A.I. that allows it to track and identify if people on the ground are armed or not.

Drones, which was tested in Camp Edwards, Massachusetts, can identify armed and unarmed people. It occasionally has trouble (they report that it once mistook the minaret of a fake mosque on the testing grounds for an armed man), most of the time it’s right on the money. The A.I. uses a variation of human and facial recognition software that American intelligence agencies employ, and can spot and track moving vehicles, and spy men hiding in the shadows.

Perhaps most impressively, it can tell if a person on the ground is armed or not. It’s so advanced that it could tell the difference between a man holding a gun and another about to take a shot… with a camera. The photographer was deemed a civilian.

In his 2013 book, “Average Is Over,” Tyler Cowen briefly mentioned how two average human chess players, working with three regular computers, were able to beat both human chess champions and chess-playing supercomputers.

It was a revelation for Mr. Work. You could “use the tactical ingenuity of the computer to improve the strategic ingenuity of the human,” he said.

Mr. Work believes a lesson learned in chess can be applied to the battlefield, and he envisions a military supercharged by artificial intelligence. Brilliant computers would transform ordinary commanders into master tacticians. American soldiers would effectively become superhuman, fighting alongside — or even inside — robots.

SOURCES – NY Times, Inverse, DARPA