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Pentagon Seriously Considering Allowing AI-Enabled Drones to Autonomously Target Humans: Report

Pentagon Seriously Considering Allowing AI-Enabled Drones to Autonomously Target Humans: Report

Humans are being bypassed on the modern battlefield as artificial intelligence-enabled drones are taking out targets without operators giving the word to kill.

As the United States pulls together policies to decide how AI-enabled weapons will be used, Ukraine has already put them in play, according to Forbes.

Ukraine has developed the Saker Scout drone that can find, identify and attack 64 varieties of Russian military equipment, and has been used in full AI mode in areas where jamming equipment interferes with humans being able to tell the drone what to destroy.

“The aim is to enable an extremely fast reconnaissance-decision making-strike process (also known as the ‘kill chain’) in a way that is not possible when humans are involved. Saker suggest that a kill-chain moving at machine-speed, with minimal human involvement, could be transformational in defeating Russian forces,” Forbes wrote.

As the reality of war to the death and the speed of technology bring nations to places they have not expected to go, the United Nations is trying to put some rules in place as the concept of a war among killer robots leaps from science fiction to the modern battlefield, according to The New York Times. One X user called the prospect the dawn of Skynet, an AI network from the “Terminator” movies.

“Do you want Skynet? Because this is how you get Skynet!” the user wrote.


“This is really one of the most significant inflection points for humanity,” said Alexander Kmentt, Austria’s chief negotiator trying to impose AI limits. “What’s the role of human beings in the use of force — it’s an absolutely fundamental security issue, a legal issue and an ethical issue.”

“This isn’t the plot of a dystopian novel, but a looming reality,” said Gaston Browne, the prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda.

The United States has drafted policy documents about creating and using AI-powered drones on the battlefield, with the Pentagon developing a document called “Autonomy in Weapons Systems” and the State Department releasing “Political Declaration on Responsible Use of Artificial Intelligence and Autonomy.”

The United States, Russia, Australia, Israel and other nations, including China, are working against global rules, the Times report said.

“The word ‘must’ will be very difficult for our delegation to accept,” said Joshua Dorosin, the State Department’s negotiator on the issue.

While imposing a chain of rules on paper, the Pentagon is also ready to move into the next generation of weapons.

In an August speech, Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks suggested technology would be the equalizer if America has to take on the behemoth of China’s Peoples Liberation Army.

“To stay ahead, we’re going to create a new state of the art — just as America has before — leveraging attritable, autonomous systems in all domains — which are less expensive, put fewer people in the line of fire, and can be changed, updated, or improved with substantially shorter lead times,” she said.

“We’ll counter the PLA’s mass with mass of our own, but ours will be harder to plan for, harder to hit, harder to beat. With smart people, smart concepts, and smart technology, our military will be more nimble, with uplift and urgency from the commercial sector,” she said.

“We’ve all seen in Ukraine how emerging tech developed by commercial and non-traditional companies — from Starlink to Switchblades to commercial imagery — can be decisive in defending against modern military aggression. It’s a vital component… excuse me… complement to traditional capabilities, which remain essential,” she said then.

Although existing policies have a human in the decision loop, Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said operational control will sooner or later be left to the drones themselves, according to the Times.

“Individual decisions versus not doing individual decisions is the difference between winning and losing — and you’re not going to lose,” he said, adding, “I don’t think people we would be up against would do that, and it would give them a huge advantage if we put that limitation on ourselves.”

America’s delegation in talks to limit AI-backed killer drones has said civilian deaths could be reduced with the new weapons.

“Smart weapons that use computers and autonomous functions to deploy force more precisely and efficiently have been shown to reduce risks of harm to civilians and civilian objects,” it has said, the Times reported.

Kennett said the rush to use what technology can deliver means some rules need to be in place.

“If we wait too long, we are really going to regret it, as soon enough, it will be cheap, easily available, and it will be everywhere. And people are going to be asking: Why didn’t we act fast enough to try to put limits on it when we had a chance to?” he added.


This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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