Fast Take: The ethics of artificial intelligence in future warfare
Stars and Stripes August 15, 2023
Artificial intelligence might be the future of warfare, as former U.S. Army Ranger Paul Scharre, executive vice president and director of studies at the Center for a New American Security, discussed with co-host Jack Murphy in the previous episode.
In this Fast Take, Murphy and co-host Rod Rodriguez discuss Scharre’s research into AI and predict how it might affect the U.S. military.
Scharre discussed DARPA’s AlphaDogfight program from 2019-2020, in which an AI pilot beat human pilots 15-0 in the simulator. During the simulation, the AI would come straight at the opposing pilot and fire a shot head-on, something that would be too dangerous for a human pilot to do.
“I think back to Paul and I's background in the Ranger battalion, in the infantry,” Murphy said. “Are we going to see that with ground-based AI systems that drive around as well — the sensor systems and everything else that soldiers are going to be confronted with in the future? It's going to be really interesting to see how that develops.”
Branching from that example, Murphy and Rodriguez discussed morality in warfare — particularly, AI’s lack of a sense of human morality. “As a commander, you wouldn't send your troops in to, let's say, capture a hill unnecessarily if you're going to just decimate everyone or you're going to lose 99% of your company,” Rodriguez said. “… But as an AI, you're going to have no issues with that.”
“We can sit back and we will sit back and kind of … pat ourselves on the shoulder about our high sense of military ethics,” Murphy said. “And we need to directly confront our enemies and we need to be on the ground and see the whites of their eyes. But I mean, first off, I think that ship sailed a long time ago. But beyond that, if the enemy that we are fighting in this future war is using those types of systems, we're going to use them too, particularly if the war's not going very good for us. A lot of the morality will get shrugged off rather quickly.”
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A transcript of the episode can be found here.
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