AI warning: Computer DESTROYS top US military F-16 fighter pilot in terrifying war games
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The artificial intelligence (AI) programme destroyed the human-controlled F-16 jet in all five rounds of a virtual aerial dogfight. The test was conducted by the US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to find out whether autonomous computer systems could fly and successfully defeat an enemy fighter jet.
At the three-day event, the AI system could be seen manoeuvring the aircraft at breakneck speeds and blasting jets out of the sky in classic one-on-one combat drills.
The computer system used laser torrents to simulate the effects of a real-life machine gun with the screen turning red when struck by a missile.
During the competition the AI agent beat seven other teams – clocking speeds of 500mph and reaching 9Gs of force in the process.
The event was shown on YouTube and with onlookers given a first-person view of the jet.
DARPA’s Justin Mock, who commentated on the trials, described the moment as a “giant leap”.
The computer model was designed by Heron Systems – a defence contractor based in California.
The test formed part of the Air Combat Evolution (ACE) programme being conducted by DARPA at the Pentagon.
The mission aims to “increase trust in combat autonomy by using human-machine collaborative dogfighting”, according to its website.
It adds: “In a future air domain contested by adversaries, a single human pilot can increase lethality by effectively orchestrating multiple autonomous unmanned platforms from within a manned aircraft.
“This shifts the human role from single platform operator to mission commander.”
Program manager at DARPA, Dan Javorsek, played down the significance of the results but hoped one day AI would come to the forefront.
Mr Javorsek said he hoped to bring AI into the real world but insisted people get “wrapped up” in the Man vs Machine narrative.
He argued humans remain the real winner because the system was designed by them.
He said: “We pilots never trust anything that’s in modelling and simulation alone.
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“I think at the end of this programme we’ve gotten an opportunity to watch AI come of age.”
He added: “What we often times forget is that yes it was Heron that won today but I would argue that actually it wasn’t the computer but it really was the human beings that were behind that.
“Heron’s triumph was really a human triumph.”
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