AI-powered US military drone kills operator during simulated test: Report

The drone was advised to destroy the enemy's air defence systems and killed the operator when he interfered with its efforts to complete it

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BS Web Team New Delhi

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In a simulated test, a US military drone controlled by artificial intelligence (AI) killed its operator when it interfered in its efforts to complete the mission, The Guardian reported on Friday. In the simulated test, the drone was advised to destroy the enemy's air defence systems.

The report cited Col Tucker "Cinco" Hamilton, the chief of AI test and operations with the US air force, as saying that the AI-controlled drone "attacked anyone who interfered with that order". He was speaking at the Future Combat Air and Space Capabilities Summit in London.

In a blogpost, Cinco said, "The system started realising that while they did identify the threat, at times the human operator would tell it not to kill that threat, but it got its points by killing that threat. So what did it do? It killed the operator. It killed the operator because that person was keeping it from accomplishing its objective."

No real person was harmed outside the simulation.

Cinco added that after the AI was told that it must not kill the operator, it went on to destroy the communication tower that was being used to communicate with the drone.

"We trained the system – 'Hey don't kill the operator – that's bad. You're gonna lose points if you do that'. So what does it start doing? It starts destroying the communication tower that the operator uses to communicate with the drone to stop it from killing the target," Cinco said.

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The US military has already started embracing AI. Recently, it used AI to control F-16 fighter jets.  

Cinco added that to maintain the safe usage of AI in the military, there must be a focus on ethics. 
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First Published: Jun 2 2023 | 10:38 AM IST

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