An AI-piloted US Air Force fighter participates in a dogfight.

An AI-piloted US Air Force fighter participates in a dogfight.

WASHINGTON: The focus on AI has raised concerns among the public about the possibility of future wars fought by machines without direct human intervention in target selection and striking capabilities.

In a groundbreaking demonstration of technological advancement, two US Air Force fighter jets recently engaged in a dogfight over California, with one jet piloted by a human and the other by AI. The AI-piloted jet, named Vista, showcased the Air Force’s strides in AI technology, which dates back to the 1950s but continues to evolve.

The US is in a race with China to maintain superiority in AI and its integration into weapon systems, raising concerns about the potential for future wars fought primarily by machines. Despite assurances from officials that direct human intervention will always be required on the US side, questions linger about adversaries’ intentions and the need for rapid deployment of US capabilities.

AI’s military history traces back to the 1960s and 1970s when systems like the Navy’s Aegis missile defence were developed, which employed if/then rule sets for autonomous decision-making. However, big advancements came in 2012 with the ability of computers to analyse big data and generate their own rule sets, marking a significant milestone dubbed AI’s ‘big bang.’

Numerous AI projects are underway across the Pentagon, including enhancing communication between pilots and air operations centres and developing AI-based navigation systems independent of GPS satellites. Safety remains a top priority as AI learns and adapts, with extensive precautions taken to ensure the accuracy and reliability of AI-driven systems. Despite challenges, AI technology promises to revolutionise military operations, offering enhanced capabilities and strategic advantages in future conflicts.

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