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Friday, April 12, 2024

Air Force pushes back on claim that military AI drone sim killed operator, says remarks 'taken out of context'

The U.S. Air Force on Friday is pushing back on comments an official made last week in which he claimed that a simulation of an artificial intelligence-enabled drone tasked with destroying surface-to-air missile (SAM) sites turned against and attacked its human user, saying the remarks “were taken out of context and were meant to be anecdotal.”

U.S. Air Force Colonel Tucker “Cinco” Hamilton made the comments during the Future Combat Air & Space Capabilities Summit in London hosted by the Royal Aeronautical Society, which brought together about 70 speakers and more than 200 delegates from around the world representing the media and those who specialize in the armed services industry and academia.

“The Department of the Air Force has not conducted any such AI-drone simulations and remains committed to ethical and responsible use of AI technology,” Air Force Spokesperson Ann Stefanek told Fox News. “It appears the colonel’s comments were taken out of context and were meant to be anecdotal.”

During the summit, Hamilton had cautioned against too much reliability on AI because of its vulnerability to be tricked and deceived.


“We were training it in simulation to identify and target a SAM threat,” Hamilton said. “And then the operator would say yes, kill that threat. The system started realizing that while they did identify the threat at times, the operator would tell it not to kill that threat, but it got its points by killing that threat. So, what did it do? It killed the operator. It killed the operator because that person was keeping it from accomplishing its objective.”

Hamilton said afterward, the system was taught not to kill the operator because that was bad, and it would lose points. But in future simulations, rather than kill the operator, the AI system destroyed the communication tower used by the operator to issue the no-go order, he claimed.


AI is quickly becoming a part of nearly every aspect in the modern world, including the military.

The Royal Aeronautical Society provided a wrap up of the conference and said Hamilton was involved in developing the life-saving Automatic ground collision avoidance system for F-16 fighter jets, but now focuses on flight tests of autonomous systems, including robotic F-16s with dogfighting capabilities.

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