> our title:

Harnessing Artificial Intelligence for Unmanned Systems

> original title:

Designing Unmanned Systems for Military Use: Harnessing Artificial Intelligence to Provide Augmented Intelligence

(Source: Center for Security Studies; issued Sept 04, 2017)

By George Galdorisi for Small Wars Journal


The US military’s use of unmanned systems in all domains—ground, air, surface, and subsurface—has increased dramatically, and will continue to do so. However, as these systems have become more autonomous, ethical concerns have surfaced regarding a potential ´dark side´ of having armed unmanned technologies make life-or-death decisions. In response, George Galdorisi argues that the key to overcoming these concerns may lie in the development of ‘augmented intelligence’ to ensure that there is always the option for human control when unmanned systems are used.

This article was originally published by the Small Wars Journal on 23 August 2017.

Executive Summary

One of the most rapidly growing areas of innovative technology adoption involves unmanned systems. The U.S. military’s use of these systems—especially armed unmanned systems—is not only changing the face of modern warfare, but is also altering the process of decision-making in combat operations. These systems are evolving rapidly to deliver enhanced capability to the warfighter in the multi-domain battle space. However, there are increasing concerns regarding the degree of autonomy these systems—especially armed unmanned systems—should have. Until these issues are addressed, military unmanned systems may not reach their full potential.

One of the operational and technical challenges of fielding even more capable unmanned systems is the rising cost of military manpower—one of the fastest growing military accounts—and the biggest cost driver in the total operating cost (TOC) of all military systems. Because of this, the U.S. military has sought to increase the autonomy of unmanned military systems in order to drive down TOC.

As military unmanned systems have become more autonomous, concerns have surfaced regarding a potential “dark side” of having armed unmanned systems make life-or-death decisions. Some of these concerns emerge from popular culture, such as movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Her, and Ex Machina. Whether the movies are far-fetched or not isn’t the point, what is important is that the ethical concerns regarding employing armed unmanned systems are being raised in national and international media.

While the DoD has issued guidance regarding operator control of unmanned vehicles, rapid advances in artificial intelligence (AI) have exacerbated concerns that the military might lose control of armed unmanned systems. The challenge for unmanned systems designers is to provide the military not with completely autonomous systems, but with systems with augmented intelligence that provide the operator with enhanced warfighting effectiveness.

The DoD can use the experience of the automotive industry and driverless cars to help accelerate the development of augmented intelligence for military unmanned systems. As testing of driverless vehicles has progressed, and as safety and ethical considerations have emerged, carmakers have tempered their zeal to produce completely autonomous vehicles and have looked to produce cars with augmented intelligence to assist the driver. Harnessing AI to provide warfighters employing unmanned systems with augmented intelligence—vice fully autonomous vehicles—may hold the key to overcoming the ethical concerns that currently limit the potential of military unmanned systems.

Perspective

One of the most rapidly growing areas of innovative technology adoption involves unmanned systems. In the past several decades, the military’s use of unmanned systems in all domains—ground, air, surface, and subsurface—has increased dramatically. The expanding use of armed unmanned systems is not only changing the face of modern warfare, but is also altering the process of decision-making in combat operations in the multi-domain battle space. These systems have been used extensively in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and will continue to be equally relevant—if not more so—in the wars in the 2030-2050 timeframe.

As military unmanned systems have become more autonomous, ethical concerns have surfaced regarding a potential “dark side” of having armed unmanned systems make life-or-death decisions. While the Department of Defense has doctrine regarding the need to have humans in-the-loop when lethal unmanned systems are employed, the concomitant desire to be able to prevail over an enemy operating at “machine speed” make it imperative that the U.S. military use unmanned systems to their maximum advantage. Designing and building unmanned systems warfighters can employ in the battlespace is a task that will require intense collaboration among policy, military, industry and other stakeholders.


Click here for the full story, on the ETHZ website.

-ends-