Yes, you read the headline correctly. The United States Defense Department recently confirmed that artificial intelligence successfully flew a jet similar to an F-16 for 17 hours straight.
How did this flight happen?
The jet was flown over a series of 12 flights back in December 2022 at the Edwards Air Force Base in Kern County, California.
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The Defense Department used an experimental plane called the Vista X-62A for the flights. There were safety pilots present on board throughout the flights just in case something were to go wrong.
However, the jet was under the control of one of four different AI algorithms at any given time during the tests and everything went smoothly. The algorithms were developed and tested by what is known as Air Combat Evolution (ACE). Using this allowed them to get ahead on missions and training.
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What did the jet do during the experiment?
This jet did way more than simply soar through the sky. The Defense Department had the jet participate in dogfighting during multiple simulated combat missions, as well as practice takeoffs and landings.
Although most aircraft today do have autopilot systems, this is the first time that artificial intelligence has engaged in any kind of aerial combat.
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What does this mean for the future of flying?
This was part of a joint project between the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the U.S. Air Force to advance autonomous flight technologies.
Although there have not been any similar tests announced just yet, this is a major stepping stone for our armed forces in defense of this country.
Artificial intelligence is already proving to be the way of the future in other fields, such as automobile driving, so it makes sense that the military is moving in the same direction.
If further tests continue to be successful, it will be no surprise if the military begins to opt for artificial intelligence to be used in combat as a way of advancing our fighting strategies and further protecting the lives of our men and woman in the armed forces.
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What are the potential downsides to using AI by the US military?
While AI technology has advanced in recent years, there is always the potential for technical problems or glitches to occur during a flight.
For example, if the AI system malfunctions or encounters a problem, it may not be able to make the proper adjustments to keep the plane flying safely.
Another potential concern is the lack of human judgment. While AI can be programmed to make decisions based on a wide range of data and information, it may not be able to replicate the nuanced decision-making abilities of a human pilot.
In an emergency or unexpected event, a human pilot may be better equipped to make the right call versus AI.
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Another negative of using AI by the military is security risks. Using AI in military aircraft raises concerns about cybersecurity and the potential for hacking or other cyber-attacks. Suppose a malicious person were to gain control of the AI system. In that case, they could potentially use the aircraft for harmful purposes even against the U.S.
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We cannot talk about AI without also considering the loss of jobs. The increased use of the technology in military aircraft could potentially lead to job loss for human pilots.
Lastly, some people may have ethical concerns about using AI in military operations, particularly if the technology is used in autonomous weapons systems that could make life-and-death decisions without human intervention.
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As you can see, there is a lot at stake here, and it will be interesting to see if AI eventually completely takes the place of a pilot in a military jet in the future.
What do you think of our military using artificial intelligence? Let us know your thoughts.
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