Potential and Peril

Communications of the ACM

The history of battle knows no bounds, with weapons of destruction evolving from prehistoric clubs, axes, and spears to bombs, drones, missiles, landmines, and systems used in biological and nuclear warfare. More recently, lethal autonomous weapon systems (LAWS) powered by artificial intelligence (AI) have begun to surface, raising ethical issues about the use of AI and causing disagreement on whether such weapons should be banned in line with international humanitarian laws under the Geneva Convention. Much of the disagreement around LAWS is based on where the line should be drawn between weapons with limited human control and autonomous weapons, and differences of opinion on whether more or less people will lose their lives as a result of the implementation of LAWS. There are also contrary views on whether autonomous weapons are already in play on the battlefield. Ronald Arkin, Regents' Professor and Director of the Mobile Robot Laboratory in the College of Computing at Georgia Institute of Technology, says limited autonomy is already present in weapon systems such as the U.S. Navy's Phalanx Close-In Weapons System, which is designed to identify and fire at incoming missiles or threatening aircraft, and Israel's Harpy system, a fire-and-forget weapon designed to detect, attack, and destroy radar emitters.


US Air Force funds Explainable-AI for UAV tech

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Z Advanced Computing, Inc. (ZAC) of Potomac, MD announced on August 27 that it is funded by the US Air Force, to use ZAC's detailed 3D image recognition technology, based on Explainable-AI, for drones (unmanned aerial vehicle or UAV) for aerial image/object recognition. ZAC is the first to demonstrate Explainable-AI, where various attributes and details of 3D (three dimensional) objects can be recognized from any view or angle. "With our superior approach, complex 3D objects can be recognized from any direction, using only a small number of training samples," said Dr. Saied Tadayon, CTO of ZAC. "For complex tasks, such as drone vision, you need ZAC's superior technology to handle detailed 3D image recognition." "You cannot do this with the other techniques, such as Deep Convolutional Neural Networks, even with an extremely large number of training samples. That's basically hitting the limits of the CNNs," continued Dr. Bijan Tadayon, CEO of ZAC.


Israel's new battle bot

FOX News

Although it tends look to the sky, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) came back down to Earth to develop RoBattle, an unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) that may soon be tasked with the type of risky missions typically assigned to foot soldiers. IAI's UGV is built to be maneuverable, dynamic, and tough. Six wheels with independent suspension enable RoBattle to scale obstacles, such as rubble and small walls, to access areas that would typically be out of reach for other robots. A modular robotic kit allows the machine to be modified and adapted with remote vehicle control, navigation, and real time mapping abilities, depending on its operational needs. RoBattle can operate independently or as support unit for convoy protection, decoy, ambush, attack, intelligence, surveillance, or armed reconnaissance, according to IAI.


Google Is Quietly Providing AI Technology for Drone Strike Targeting Project

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Google has quietly secured a contract to work on the Defense Department's new algorithmic warfare initiative, providing assistance with a pilot project to apply its artificial intelligence solutions to drone targeting. The military contract with Google is routed through a Northern Virginia technology staffing company called ECS Federal, obscuring the relationship from the public. The contract, first reported Tuesday by Gizmodo, is part of a rapid push by the Pentagon to deploy state-of-the-art artificial intelligence technology to improve combat performance. Google, which has made strides in applying its proprietary deep learning tools to improve language translation, and vision recognition, has a cross-team collaboration within the company to work on the AI drone project. The team, The Intercept has learned, is working to develop deep learning technology to help drone analysts interpret the vast image data vacuumed up from the military's fleet of 1,100 drones to better target bombing strikes against the Islamic State.


The risk of an Iran cyberattack is up after missile strike on Iraqi military bases with US troops

USATODAY - Tech Top Stories

Americans should be on heightened alert for cyberattacks after Iran fired more than a dozen missiles at two military bases in Iraq where U.S. troops are stationed late Tuesday, security researchers say. Iran could target private businesses and government infrastructure to avenge last week's killing of its top military commander as tensions between Tehran and Washington reach one of their highest points since the 1979 Iranian revolution. "I am not predicting it will happen, but if it happens, I won't be surprised," said Steven Bellovin, a computer science professor at Columbia University School of Engineering. A cyber conflict has been silently raging for years. In retaliation for the U.S. drone strike that killed Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad last week, Iran could target the power and electricity you use, the smart devices you carry or your bank account, security experts say.