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In simulation, AI drone tries to murder its human commander; Updated

Dear reader, we have talked about AI humorously before, and argued that in the context of legal research it wasn’t ready for prime time. Well, apparently it really isn’t ready to be given any kind of guns. In the story linked to by this innocuous tweet …


… we get this horrifying account from Col. Tucker ‘Cinco’ Hamilton, the Chief of AI Test and Operations, for the United States Air Force:

[Hamilton] notes that one simulated test saw an AI-enabled drone tasked with a SEAD mission to identify and destroy SAM sites, with the final go/no go given by the human. However, having been ‘reinforced’ in training that destruction of the SAM was the preferred option, the AI then decided that ‘no-go’ decisions from the human were interfering with its higher mission – killing SAMs – and then attacked the operator in the simulation. Said Hamilton: ‘We were training it in simulation to identify and target a SAM threat. And then the operator would say yes, kill that threat. 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.’

Now, we will point out that all of this is in simulation. No actual humans or even SAMs were destroyed in this test. And the story goes on:


He went on: ‘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.’

This started to get noticed on Twitter:

Personally, we would credit James Cameron, but close enough.


Our favorite has to be for giant women to take over the Earth, to be followed by all the men dying by snu-snu—you know, if we have to choose one:

Of course, this is only the latest example of people pretty much failing to heed the warnings of Sci-Fi.


Of course, some were more optimistic:


Yeah, we’re going to have to go with Eliezer on this. And, of course, the problem is even if we ban it in America, how do you stop the rest of the world from going down this route? And if one side’s military is using robots, how do we explain why we shouldn’t use robot soldiers to a grieving mother standing next to the body of her son or daughter?

Finally, Armand had a simple plea:

Worth considering … you know, before the robot apocalypse kills us all.


The Air Force has pushed back on this claim, per Fox News:

The U.S. Air Force on Friday is pushing back on comments an official made last week in which he claimed that a simulation of an artificial intelligence-enabled drone tasked with destroying surface-to-air missile (SAM) sites turned against and attacked its human user, saying the remarks “were taken out of context and were meant to be anecdotal.”

U.S. Air Force Colonel Tucker “Cinco” Hamilton made the comments during the Future Combat Air & Space Capabilities Summit in London hosted by the Royal Aeronautical Society, which brought together about 70 speakers and more than 200 delegates from around the world representing the media and those who specialize in the armed services industry and academia.

“The Department of the Air Force has not conducted any such AI-drone simulations and remains committed to ethical and responsible use of AI technology,” Air Force Spokesperson Ann Stefanek told Fox News. “It appears the colonel’s comments were taken out of context and were meant to be anecdotal.”



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