Just weeks after an artificial intelligence program defeated an F-16 fighter pilot in a virtual dogfight, the Pentagon is set to raise the stakes by pitting an AI-controlled jet against a pilot in a real-life aerial battle, Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced.
Esper unveiled the plans for the battle, slated for 2024, during a speech at the Defense Department’s AI Symposium 2020 on Wednesday, as reported by Military.com.
During the address, Esper hailed the ‘tectonic impact of machine learning on the future of warfighting’ after the AI algorithm annihilated the human pilot in the virtual showdown at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, on August 20.
‘The AI agent's resounding victory demonstrated the ability of advanced algorithms to outperform humans in virtual dogfights, he said. ‘These simulations will culminate in a real-world competition involving full-scale tactical aircraft in 2024.’
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The Pentagon is set to pit an AI-controlled Jet against a pilot in a real-life aerial battle in 2024, Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced
Defense Secretary Mark Esper made the announcement during a speech at the Defense Department’s AI Symposium 2020 on Wednesday
During last month’s AlphaDogfight competition, run by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Maryland-based Heron Systems came in first place among eight companies who pitted their simulated aircraft against one another over two days of duels.
On the third day, Heron’s AI system virtually shot down the human F-16 pilot in five successive rounds of mock air combat, showing the human brain is no match for the technology's aggressive tactics.
The AI-system used a series of maverick maneuvers against the pilot - referenced only by his call name, Bangers - such as flying directly towards the jet without letting up until the last second, in what was referred to as a high-stakes game of chicken.
On the third day, Heron’s AI system virtually shot down the human F-16 pilot in five rounds of mock air combat, showing the human brain is no match for the technology's aggressive tactics.
During the fight, Bangers was heard raising concerns about the bot’s confrontational approach.
'The standard things we do as fighter pilots aren't working,' he was heard saying. The bot then fired upon him three times, striking on each occasion.
The US military has a strong track record for airborne battles, with US fighter pilots having shot down 58 enemy planes since the Vietnam War while having been defeated only once.
'No AI currently exists ... that can outduel a human strapped into a fighter jet in a high-speed, high-G dogfight,' DARPA said only last year.
But the defeat at the hands of AI last month seems to have prompted a shift in that line of thinking.
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