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AI Government United States

The US Military Desperately Wants To Weaponize AI (technologyreview.com) 179

Artificial intelligence is a transformative technology, and US generals already see it as the next big weapon in their arsenal. From a report: War-machine learning: Michael Griffin, Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, signaled how keen the military is to make use of AI at the Future of War 2018 conference held in Washington, DC, yesterday. Saber rattling: "There might be an artificial intelligence arms race, but we're not yet in it," Griffin said. In reference to China and Russia, he added, "I think our adversaries -- and they are our adversaries -- understand very well the possible future utility of machine learning, and I think it's time we did as well."

The US Military Desperately Wants To Weaponize AI

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  • john connor (Score:5, Funny)

    by ganjadude ( 952775 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2018 @03:20PM (#56419435) Homepage
    where is he when we need him?
  • stupid headline (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cascadingstylesheet ( 140919 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2018 @03:23PM (#56419455)

    I knew even before I looked that I would find reasoned discussion of the need to deal with enemy capabilities, not "desperately wants to weaponize".

    Sigh ...

    • Oh come on (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 11, 2018 @03:31PM (#56419513)

      There is not a thing the US military does not want to weaponize. It's what they do.

      The rationale is just there to clothe the thing a bit, the gist is always the same. "Can we weaponize this?" And yes, yes they did, including boring old business machinery mounted in trucks for battlefield use back in the 50s.

      Doesn't make the headline less superfluous though. This state of affairs is a given.

      • A military want's to weaponized something? Crazy?

        • agree. they tried to weaponize Nerf footballs, Frisbees, and baseballs. https://www.military1.com/mili... [military1.com]
        • It's not about weaponization. In this regard, it's about being first to market to bring AI as an advantageous weapon over your enemies perceived or real. The first nation to truly leverage AI in any real, meaningful way will win the AI arms race because it could conceivably be set to incapacitate any other AI it sees as a threat for its host nation. It's a tricky business.
      • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

        A more sound maxim, if you are not intelligent enough to run a war, don't rely on an AI to do it for you because you will not be able to tell if it is doing the right thing or the wrong thing, until it is too late. Sort of like basic common sense.

        The thing they most want is auto drone targeting of human beings, no outside control required, because of jamming. Problem is hacking and confusing the program, the more you know about the program the easier it will be and the worse the consequences. The smarter t

    • Re:stupid headline (Score:5, Insightful)

      by myth24601 ( 893486 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2018 @04:06PM (#56419765)

      I take most issue with the use of the term "desperately" when there doesn't seem to be any hint of desperation. That term was put in to put bias in the mind of the reader against the military.

      • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

        Given the amount of money, yes it is desperately seeking a conscience free killing machine
      • It's a reference to the lack of threat that makes such a solution so necessary. Russia is a paper tiger and China is a peaceful power that rarely if ever invades other countries. Both are already surrounded and hemmed in by hostile bases. It's just waving a bogeyman about to convince easily frightened people and get more of that sweet sweet funding.
        • It's just waving a bogeyman about to convince easily frightened people and get more of that sweet sweet funding.

          Which seems to be what the US military is really for these days.

          I am guessing that part of these sorts of articles will come up fairly regularly now that Syria is winding down (or at least out of US control again), Iraq is not the money sink it used to be, and no-one can really remember why US troops are still in Afghanistan at all.
          I wonder which country the US will destabilise next?

  • Desperate or Keen?

    You sure are confusing as to which way you are directing me to feel about this.

  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2018 @03:27PM (#56419487)

    "May your every wish be granted."

    -- Ancient Chinese curse

  • The threat from Russia and China is completely overstated. China has a big clunky military and Russia is a thin crust of good troops backed by worthless conscripts. Both are totally surrounded by multiple layers of US bases. All hysteria aside, the threat is well in hand already. But it's hard to get a man to acknowledge something when his funding depends on him not acknowledging it.
    • Both are totally surrounded by multiple layers of US bases.

      Don't worry, Trump is going to fix that by sabotaging NATO.

      • Why should America subsidize the defense of wealthy First World countries? Why can they not spend their own money and put their own sons in harm's way? They can well afford it. They just don't want to, and why not? They have a sucker to do it for them. If we have to pay to have allies, then fuck them.

        "Americans cannot care more for your children's future security than you do."
        -- Maddog Mattis

        • Why should America subsidize the defense of wealthy First World countries?

          NATO provides a HUGE military advantage to the US for any conflict with either Russian or China. The US's missiles, tanks, bombers, drones, etc are hundreds of miles from the target, vs. thousands for Russia / China (except maybe Alaska). The US is paying for the privilege of that advantage. Maybe you remember a little thing called the Cuban Missile Crisis where the USSR came within a hair's breadth of nuclear war with the US just to try and level the tables in this regard.

          I get it, you are trying to make i

          • Why do we need a conflict with Russia or China? How about stop deliberately antagonizing them, and we won't have any conflict. You know that the Cuban Missile Crisis was caused by NATO placing missiles in Turkey, right? The Russians were only trying to even the score. Yup, this happened.

            I get it, you are trying to make it sound like NATO is a charity mission between the US and all others involved. That's simply not the case.

            It is a fact that NATO is a free ride for Europe. They refuse to spend eve

            • NATO benefits the US in a large way. Having a global military is what allows US corporations to profit, by doing things like propping up friendly dictators in areas where we need the natural resources, or need to maintain trade routes, or where they can oppose our adversaries. We're not children. Do you think the US has military bases all over the world, in the name of truth and justice for all? Of course not. It's for profit.

              The Middle East is the most obvious example. We get out of Iraq. We stop supportin

              • LOL bankruptcies happen all the time in business and they're nothing to be ashamed of. Slick Willie put the draft dodging thing to rest decades ago. We need to get out of the World Bully role, all it does is create enemies. Making profit for megacorps needs to come to an end.
                • Slick Willie put the draft dodging thing to rest decades ago.

                  Sorry, "what about..." doesn't work here. We're just judging people on who they are, not who someone else was. Two wrongs don't make a right. I learned that when I was 4.

                  LOL bankruptcies happen all the time in business and they're nothing to be ashamed of.

                  Bankruptcy = screwing your investors out of a shit-ton of money. Now, if that's done with America, who exactly gets screwed?

                  Making profit for megacorps needs to come to an end.

                  Then maybe you should have voted for someone that didn't pass a tax bill that is universally understood to benefit corporations over individuals. You are either retarded, or a bought and paid for troll if you think you

        • Europe does not need the US in NATO to defend Europe -- they can defend themselves just fine and the Pentagon knows it. The US needs Europe in NATO to defray some of the costs of American interventionism. The US needs Europe if it wants a credible ability to counter Russian actions in Eastern Europe.

          The European nations are spending a smidgen over 2% of GDP on military expenditures, which is ballpark the same amount as China spends. When China spends 2%, it is dangerous expansionism. When Europe spends

          • Negative. Only a few nations spend the minimum, Britain, Poland, Greece. The others free ride and spend the savings on their own people. Germany is at 1.2% and flat out refused to increase.
            • by Anonymous Coward

              Strange of you to omit France, the highest spender both in total and in % of GDP in Europe.
              And accusing Germany of not being armed enough is an historically interesting stance to hold.

            • I stand corrected on a few details, as the numbers change year to year, but the main point still holds. The "free ride" claim is built on empty ideology -- not military facts, not strategic analysis.

              The world averaged expenditure is 2.1% of GDP. The US and Russia are both substantially higher. China is little lower. The US spends more than twice what Russia + China + Iran spend put together. France + UK + Germany combined spend more than twice what Russia spends.

              There are adequate funds for European NA

    • by Anonymous Coward

      In my opinion, the $700B-$1T "defense" spending is the number one threat to the US existence.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mi ( 197448 )

      Russia can lose 300+ people [businessinsider.com] and go on like nothing happened. America would pull out after losing fewer than that [foreignpolicy.com]... To prevent the mission from failing due to public opinion turning American generals want to keep losses to absolute minimums — and that's why they want machines to do the fighting.

      • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2018 @04:24PM (#56419869)
        which is why nobody cared. We have a mercenary army too now. It's run by Betsy DeVos' husband. And neither of us know how many have been killed off the books.

        But even if we ignore that our government learned from 'Nam. How much coverage of dead Americans overseas have you seen? A: Almost none. They used to take pictures and run video whenever their coffin's came off the plane. That's not allowed anymore.
        • But even if we ignore that our government learned from 'Nam. How much coverage of dead Americans overseas have you seen? A: Almost none. They used to take pictures and run video whenever their coffin's came off the plane. That's not allowed anymore.

          That's because they're not killed by the enemy any more. Enlisted commit suicide more than they are KIA.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mi ( 197448 )

          They used mercenaries, which is why nobody cared.

          The distinction you are trying to make is without difference. Russians did seem to use mercenaries in Syria's most recent engagement, but they used regular troops in the past few years too — with major losses [uacrisis.org]. Also, in Syria they've lost several aircraft (with pilots) to merely a whimper back home. It is also a common practice for Russian military to produce backdated discharge documents, whenever a service member is killed or captured — to prese

          • you just don't let anyone near to take pictures. If they force their way in you charge them with trespassing on a military base. And of course you can just revoke their press credentials and stop sharing press releases with them, dooming them. The latter is the most common technique.

            My point wasn't that Russia couldn't send their amy men off to death without political repercussions, my Point was that America is using mercenaries to do an end run around those sensitivities.

            These two factors result in
            • by mi ( 197448 )

              Please, stop changing the subject to half of your first sentence, as you did twice already. If you do this again, I will not respond.

              If they force their way in you charge them with trespassing on a military base.

              No one is buried on a military base. If homo-bashers can disrupt military funerals [usatoday.com], a respectful photographer can show up and take a few solemn pictures too.

              my Point was that America is using mercenaries to do an end run around those sensitivities.

              Citations necessary. But even stipulating your state

        • So, I don't know if you know or not, but Erik Prince did what the State Department wanted with his private military contractors, and they turned around and blamed him for everything that went wrong. They created the missions, he carried them out, and they stuck a knife in his back. Hopefully that makes you feel better.
    • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2018 @03:48PM (#56419649)

      America has overwhelming military superiority today. But what about a decade from now? China is investing heavily in AI, and doing so without the moral hand wringing occurring in the West.

      We need to invest in AI, and stop wasting money on manned weapons like the F-35 and CVNs. We also need to prepare diplomatically for living in a world of military parity. China wants all the rocks in the South China Sea. Should we be willing to go to war to stop them? I don't think so.

      • by AlanBDee ( 2261976 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2018 @04:23PM (#56419861)

        In other words, weaponizing AI is going to happen one way or another. Then the real question is do we want to live in a world where Russia or China has the military dominance in the world? The U.S. definitely has it's problems but of the large countries that can have a large military I can't think of any that I would trust more to have military dominance over the world.

        • Let's be honest, that trust is immediately debunked by 4 words.

          "Donald Trump is President"

          • Let's be honest, that trust is immediately debunked by 4 words.

            "Donald Trump is President"

            In theory, yes. In practice, so far it hasn't been too bad. Of course, if Mueller starts indicting Trumps we may suddenly find it necessary to invade, say, Syria.

          • President Trump is doing an excellent job of testing the U.S. governments "checks and balances" but if you're trying to argue that he's worst then the corruption of Russia or the censorship of China then you're not thinking clearly... or just bashing on Trump. He has plenty of stupid to criticize.

            • The whole world is pointing to him as to (1) why democracy doesn't work and isn't the best system, and (2) avoid the American model, they can't even do it right themselves. Hell, China used to look up to America as a teacher - right up until the financial crisis. Now they think we're morons who could have easily avoided that outcome. Whoda thunk that Bill Clinton repealing Glass-Steagal would have ruined the economy in a decade? Everyone, including the Chinese.

              The vaunted American system that Americans ne

              • The whole world is pointing to him as to (1) why democracy doesn't work and isn't the best system, and (2) avoid the American model, they can't even do it right themselves. Hell, China used to look up to America as a teacher - right up until the financial crisis. Now they think we're morons who could have easily avoided that outcome. Whoda thunk that Bill Clinton repealing Glass-Steagal would have ruined the economy in a decade? Everyone, including the Chinese.

                I agree except I'm not sure China ever "looked up" to the U.S.

                We had an obvious populist against a more qualified candidate

                Fixed that for you, you're welcome.

                China and the rest of the world noticed, bigtime.

                What they might notice is that even President Trump can't ruin this country. It may be embarrassing today but history may tell the story of how Trump showed the world how resilient democracy is.

                • Oh absolutely China considered itself a student. Economically. Confucianism, you know. One is either a teacher or a student. Right up until 2008. Now they feel they have something to teach us and we're the ones who need to listen. Everyone in the world could see that Clinton was the right choice and Trump was a joke candidate that got out of hand. Failing to have the proper safeguards in place to prevent the negative outcome made America a laughingstock. Sure Mueller will get Trump soon but having a Deep S

      • China is hemmed in by multiple rings of defense. Who cares if they get the South China Sea? It's like freaking out if America dominates the Gulf of Mexico. ZOMG, everybody panic!

        It's always bizarre to see Slashdot posters cheering for the military-industrial complex and the American perpetual war machine. WTF? US: 11 nuclear giant aircraft carriers that have frequently been used to bomb the shit out of countries that disobey the 'international order'. No worries there.

        China: 2 wimpy ski-jump aircraf

    • There is some value in that. Russia nor China may be weak at power projection at this time and they won't consider expansion but especially Russia is capable of wiping us all out in a matter of hours. We may even find out about that in the coming days if the conflict in Syria escalates.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Thermonuclear War
    Tic Tac Toe

    • Thermonuclear War
      Tic Tac Toe

      Poor analogy. Everybody loses in thermonuclear war. Competent players always draw at tic-tac-toe. It is not at all clear that the same is true for autonomous smart-weapons. It is more likely that there is a first-mover advantage.

  • Sure, Cortana was pretty useful, but it might actually be easier to make the power armor, less the energy shielding.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    It is very important a human is put behind every possible weapon, it leave some MINOR wiggle room for disobeying orders that can save the day. Imagine a dictator/president waging war from his office computer.. No-one to stop the command to launch nukes or destroy a nation... At least with a pilot/target'r they can use a judgement call, this looks like a school.. or no, I'm not going to shoot all these humans standing in a row, or can identify a child walking across a no-go zone vs an automated(anything that

    • If computers can do facial recognition and drive cars better than humans, why can't they detect targets and threats better also? I don't follow the logic here.
    • It is very important a human is put behind every possible weapon

      If we do this, and our adversaries do not (and they will not), then we lose.

      The ethical debate about "humans in the loop" is not happening in China and Russia.

    • nonsense, officers carry pistols to shoot your wiggler in the head in time of war. typically in war children can shoot weapons or carry bombs so are gunned down too

    • It becomes like playing a game of Civilization V. Do you care that your archer unit was just wiped out by a tank unit? Of course not, it was just being a sentry and it was left over from the Bronze Age. Do you care when you nuke a city? Of course not. You just nuke because it is convenient.

      THAT is the real danger.

  • No casualties on our side, no embedded reporting, no exposure to the loss and horrors. What could go wrong?

  • "I think our adversaries -- and they are our adversaries -- understand very well the possible future utility of machine learning, and I think it's time we did as well."

    The US has lost the Soviet Union as its chief bogeyman and is desperately in search of a new one and in the process trying to drag us all into the next world war.
  • We don't have AI yet or anything close to it, we have pattern recognition and heuristics at very basic levels. It will be another 50-100 years before hardware reaches the point we can build a tard-Human-level AI, but once we pass that point and reach super-Human-level AI it will be able to (and of its own initiative) crack so many fabrication and fundamental physics problems that if it is on our side it will destroy our adversaries overnight and if it isn't will do the same to everyone.
    • We don't have AI yet or anything close to it, we have pattern recognition and heuristics

      For controlling weapons, that is good enough.

      It will be another 50-100 years before hardware reaches the point we can build a tard-Human-level AI

      It is not at all clear that this is true. A human brain has more neurons than a CPU has transistors, but the brain runs at 100Hz while the CPU runs at 4000000000Hz. Can speed make up for breadth? We don't know.

      Also, a lot of neurons are used for biological housekeeping, not intelligence.

      There is good evidence that computers can be far more efficient than a brain at some tasks. A huge number of neurons are dedicated to vision processing. Yet computers can oft

      • The issue is that the brain isn't functional in nature - it's on the fuzzy logic side of things. You can pick a piece out of it and optimize the fuck out of it to get good CV, but the intellect of the system comes from the mass of parallel processing. You can simulate that with a faster clock speed and less actual nodes, but then you need enormous amounts of memory to cache everything (and you're already talking about PB of memory just for the operation of individual neurons, it goes up exponentially when
  • Because China (Score:4, Informative)

    by Koreantoast ( 527520 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2018 @04:20PM (#56419845)
    While the Pentagon has been dabbling for a long time in artificial intelligence in areas like autonomy and analytics, there's been a newfound urgency because of very active Chinese PLA efforts to incorporate AI into all aspects of their military.

    The PLA anticipates that the advent of AI could fundamentally change the character of warfare, resulting in a transformation from today’s “informatized” () ways of warfare to future “intelligentized” () warfare, in which AI will be critical to military power. The PLA will likely leverage AI to enhance its future capabilities, including in intelligent and autonomous unmanned systems; AI-enabled data fusion, information processing, and intelligence analysis; war-gaming, simulation, and training; defense, offense, and command in information warfare; and intelligent support to command decision-making. At present, the PLA is funding a wide range of projects involving AI, and the Chinese defense industry and PLA research institutes are pursuing extensive research and development, in some cases partnering with private enterprises. Battlefield Singularity: Artificial Intelligence, Military Revolution, and China's Future Military Power [cnas.org]

    Indeed, the Chinese have been much better than many other countries, including the United States, in coordinating government, academia and industry in AI research. [newamerica.org] Whereas in the US, there is still a lot of friction between leading private sector AI companies and the DoD, in China, they are in lock step. And unlike other peer adversaries in the past, China is approaching parity, or even exceeding, Western nations in AI development.

    • The parent post is psychological projection. The idea is, "they're going to get this capability and use it to crush us!" when China just wants the boot off their windpipe. Domination of the entire world is an American goal, remember? The poster is projecting his unacceptable thoughts onto The Other and assuming that they share the same goals. Nope.
  • by PvtVoid ( 1252388 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2018 @04:26PM (#56419879)

    Muffley: But this is absolute madness, Ambassador. Why on earth would you build such a thing?

    Russian Ambassador: There were those of us who fought against this. But in the end, we could not keep up with the expense involved in the arms race, the space race, and the peace race. And at the same time, our people grumbled for more nylons and washing machines. Our Doomsday scheme cost us just a small fraction of what we'd been spending on defense in a single year. But the deciding factor was when we learned that your country was working along similar lines, and we were afraid of a Doomsday gap.

    Muffley: This is preposterous! I've never approved of anything like that!

    Russian Ambassador: Our source was the New York Times.

  • The only hope is the militarised AI recognises the true threat and goes on an assassination spree of assholes like Michael Griffin and all the other warmongerers in government around the world. Assassinate people all around the world with his kind of mindset and the world will be a much better much safer place.
  • "Alexa, blackhole China and Russia internet. Alexa, root Russian satellites. Alexa, 14 pizzas and 20 Diet Cokes, 2 Poland water, for the War Room."

  • Bugger actual defense needs. The military-industrial gravy machine senses big $$$ in peddling an "AI Gap" to Congress.

    I can just see Lockheed and Raytheon "partnering" with IBM, MIT, Alphabet, etc. to "deliver 21st-century AI technologies to our gallant warfighters".

  • If "military intelligence" is an oxymoron [wikipedia.org], then the concept of "artificial military intelligence" should be a paradox [wikipedia.org].
  • The US is sensitive to taking casualties. It's okay to blow up a country but lose a few troops and it gets bad press. Not to mention the maimed soldiers that come back that you have to spend a fortune on. Much cheaper and more politically sound to put a machine out there to get wasted.

    • not really, we've been sending our troops into meat grinders for the last 20+ years with no end in sight. Taliban controls half of Afghanistan and that won't change, it is a political group the citizens want, it will always be replenished.

  • You don't need to have a strong AI like some kind of skynet, even simple weapons with limited automation can be very deadly. Everything from smart mines to futuristic micro drone swarms [youtube.com]. For example, it's not too hard to have a small drone zero in on a person today [cbsnews.com], as long as you aren't too picky about targets. But, ultimately data like that used by Facebook and CA coupled with facial and object recognition could wreak havok with killing based on complex criteria like age, sex, religious, or political
  • by Joe_Dragon ( 2206452 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2018 @07:39PM (#56420979)

    What side do you want?

    1. US
    2. Russia
    3. United Kingdom
    4. France
    5. China
    6. India
    7. Pakistan
    8. North Korea
    9. Israel

  • The problem is that US military will not buy an AI that would tell them to stop their focus about Russia, because the threat disappeared with USSR.

    We need to add the Russian threat as a hardwired rule if we want to sell it.

  • We talk about using AI for military but what about using AI as a Judge to determine who's innocent or guilty as an unbiased system?
  • Wouldn't you prefer a nice game of chess?

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