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How can Artificial Intelligence help me on the Battlefield?


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April 26, 2019, I was asked to present how Artificial Intelligence can help the Battlefield at the officers of the 11th Airmobile Brigade (11e Luchtmobiele brigade in Dutch) of the Dutch forces . The potential benefit of Artificial Intelligence on the battlefield is a very interesting, but also intriguing topic! Here you can find my slides. I also have written a blog on this topic which contains several additional references and can be found as a LinkedIn Article and as blog on

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How can Artificial Intelligence help me on the Battlefield?

  1. 1. Artificial Intelligence: How can AI help me on the battlefield? Prof dr ir Jan C. Scholtes 11th Airmobile Brigade The Netherlands Officers Day, April 26, 2019
  2. 2. 2 Your presenter today:
  3. 3. Anthropomorphism Forget about Hollywood AI is reality
  4. 4. 4 3rd Weapon Revolution • Gunpowder • Atomic power • Artificial Intelligence
  5. 5. Many governments fear a new “Sputnik” moment
  6. 6. 6 Near Future: huge government investments in AI worldwide Source: national-and-regional-ai-strategies
  7. 7. 7 AI was Born on the Battlefield • Alan Turing Enigma (1942) • TCP/IP (the internet) (1983) • Closed in Weapon Systems (Phalanx) (1973) • Defensive Autonomous Weapons (Patriot, C- RAM) (1984-2006) • Tomahawk and JDAM (1991-1997)
  8. 8. 8 Future Role of AI on the Battlefield Intelligent Agents will be Targets, but they can also be used as Perpetrators or Defenders
  9. 9. 9 Intelligence & Reconnaissance
  10. 10. 10 Advanced Targeting and Lethality Automated System (ATLAS) In February 2019, the U.S. Army asked experts for ideas on how to build a system that would allow tanks and other ground-combat vehicles to quickly and automatically “acquire, identify, and engage” targets.
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  13. 13. 14 Cyber wars Source:
  14. 14. The question of whether a computer can think is no more interesting than the question of whether a submarine can swim.- Edsger Dijkstra
  15. 15. 17 AI solves problems differently than humans … Computers have different skillset than humans. They excel in: • Infinite speed & memory • 24/7 availability • Scalability  A computer program can try something 100 millions of times in a fraction of the time humans in order to fine tune all parameters to find an optimal solution.  Computer programs can use data structures representing 100 millions of features to find patterns and solve problems. AI approaches language, vision, listening, and movement different than humans.
  16. 16. 18 What is Artificial Intelligence?
  17. 17. 19 What is an Autonomous Agent • An autonomous agent is an intelligent agent operating on an owner's behalf but without any interference of that ownership entity. • Can be a computer program but also a robot, vehicle, drone or vessel.
  18. 18. 20 • 1997: Brute force computer power • No intuition or creativity Why is Artificial Intelligence Suddenly so Good??
  19. 19. 21 • 2011: Text retrieval & Inferencing with rules • All knowledge engineered by humans
  20. 20. 22 • 2016: Deep & Reinforcement learning • Creativity • Self-learning
  21. 21. 23 The development of AI Brute force computer power (evaluate 200 million positions per second!). Algorithms explicitly programmed by check experts. Massive information retrieval (four terabytes of information). Little learning or reasoning. Based on (deep) machine-learning. Started with games from professional players. Learned further from playing 30 million games against itself.
  22. 22. 24 This is only the beginning
  23. 23. Faculty Humanities and Sciences Where does this growth come from ? 61 years of exponential data growth
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  25. 25. As a result, the cost of technology is decimating
  26. 26. 29 Exponential Growth: Deception
  27. 27. 30
  28. 28. Technology is exponential, humans are not!
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  30. 30. Remember this …
  31. 31. Today, holograms are for real
  32. 32. Teleportation
  33. 33. Quantum computers
  34. 34. 37 The Singularity is Near (2005) The Singularity is Near, Ray Kurzweil defines singularity as a time period in which technology growth (exponential) is at a such a pace that it blurs the distinct lines between nature and technology. The singularity is when technology merges with and overtakes biology and the human brain. Our intelligence becomes super powerful, evolving into a non-biological entity with the extraordinary processing power of machines. This merge is the core of singularity. Kurzweil believes it will be in 2045.
  35. 35. 39 • AI Agents learn by using imitation and reinforcement learning (like AlphaGo). • Create more realistic enemies.
  36. 36. 40 Computers are ruthless… fruit picking game • Google’s AI got “highly aggressive” when competition got stressful in a fruit-picking game. • Shoot other players at beginning of game.
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  38. 38. 42 Reinforcement Learning • What is your reward function? • Simulate 100 millions of situations
  39. 39. 43 How to Evaluate the Quality?
  40. 40. 44 The Strength and Weakness of AI Strengths Skills  Memory  Speed  Force  Vision  Sensory Weakness  Judgement  Knowledge  Dealing with uncertainty and unexpected behavior  Creativity
  41. 41. 45 Battlefield Challenges we have not Solved yet … • “No plan survives first contact with enemy” • Dinky, Dirty, Dynamic and Deceptive Data* • Computers break down, have bugs, malfunction, need repair, maintenance and energy. • Malware, viruses, electro-magnetical interference, …
  42. 42. 46 AI on the Battlefield: where are we? • Sensor fusion for reconnaissance & intelligence • Simulations & training • Planning • Exo-skeletons • Medical & Logistical support • Guided weapons • Precision targeting • Missile defense • Cyber security • Omnipresent and Omniscient autonomous vehicles, vessels or drones • Autonomous intelligence and reconnaissance missions • Automatically “acquire, identify, and engage” targets • Strategic decisions: big-data-driven modeling, simulation, and war gaming • AI guided cyber attacks • … Now Future
  43. 43. 47 How about Policy Rules? • The human in the loop: robot selects, human shoots. • The human on the loop: activated and goes. Cancel button. • The human off the loop: mines. How about robot beyond the loop when agents developing their own policy rules. Then we can either end up with a Skynet or War Games scenario. Should be avoided at all times! 1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. 2. A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. 3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.
  44. 44. 48 The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, a coalition of non- governmental organizations working to ban autonomous weapons and maintain “meaningful human control over the use of force”. Source: In 2017, Stuart Russell showed a dystopian future brought on by autonomous military weaponry that activists say would “decide who lives and dies, without further human intervention, which crosses a moral threshold.”
  45. 45. Robot Rights Movement
  46. 46. But how about the other way around?
  47. 47. 51 A Compilation of Robots Falling Down at the DARPA Robotics Challenge:
  48. 48. Thank you! Time for Q&A Prof dr ir Jan C. Scholtes