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US Military Considers Using A.I. to Make Battle Decisions

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Hollywood has long filled us with stories that seem to paint the future in a dystopian light, and with a number of potential paths to such a bleak outlook.  Overpopulation, famine, climate change, asteroids, nuclear war…you name it, we’ve lived through it in a two-hour matinee.

But perhaps no such end-times scenario has been as thoroughly examined as the possibility of a robot revolution, in which artificial intelligence advances into sentience and thus destroys humanity.

The potential for such a disaster has long hinged on the willingness of humans to give our computer programs the sentience to make decisions on their owner and it appears as though the US military is now playing with fire in that regard.

When a suicide bomber attacked Kabul International Airport in August last year, the death and destruction was overwhelming: The violence left 183 people dead, including 13 U.S. soldiers.

This kind of mass casualty event can be particularly daunting for field workers. Hundreds of people need care, the hospitals nearby have limited room, and decisions on who gets care first and who can wait need to be made quickly. Often, the answer isn’t clear, and people disagree.

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The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) – the innovation arm of the U.S. military – is aiming to answer these thorny questions by outsourcing the decision-making process to artificial intelligence. Through a new program, called In the Moment, it wants to develop technology that would make quick decisions in stressful situations using algorithms and data, arguing that removing human biases may save lives, according to details from the program’s launch this month.

There was no doubt where the project was heading.

“DARPA envisions a future in which machines are more than just tools,” the agency said in announcing the AI Next program. “The machines DARPA envisions will function more as colleagues than as tools.”

To that end, DARPA’s In the Moment program will create and evaluate algorithms that aid military decision-makers in two situations: small unit injuries, such as those faced by Special Operations units under fire, and mass casualty events, like the Kabul airport bombing. Later, they may develop algorithms to aid disaster relief situations such as earthquakes, agency officials said.

Will this lead to a battlefield revolution and the end of war as we know it, or will DARPA’s folly bring a whole new sort of conflict to the human situation?

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About the Author:
As a lifelong advocate for the dream promised us in the Constitution, Andrew West has spent his years authoring lush prose editorial dirges regarding America's fall from grace and her path back to prosperity. When West isn't railing against the offensive whims of the mainstream media or the ideological cruelty that is so rampant in the US, he spends his time seeking adventurous new food and fermented beverages, with the occasional round of golf peppered in.