The US Army just took a giant step toward developing killer robots that can see and identify faces in the dark. DEVCOM, the US Army's corporate research department, last week published a pre-print paper documenting the development of an image database for training AI to perform facial recognition using thermal images. Why this matters: Robots can use night vision optics to effectively see in the dark, but to date there's been no method by which they can be trained to identify surveillance targets using only thermal imagery. This database, made up of hundreds of thousands of images consisting of regular light pictures of people and their corresponding thermal images, aims to change that. How it works: Much like any other facial recognition system, an AI would be trained to categorize images using a specific number of parameters.
On Wednesday, I hosted a discussion with former secretary of defense Ashton Carter, who is now the director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School. The conversation was part of WIRED's CES programming, which tackled the biggest trends that will shape 2021, from medicine to autonomous driving to defense. We took questions from viewers in real time. The conversation has been lightly edited for clarity. Nicholas Thompson: You've had an incredible 35-year career in the US government and in the private sector, working for Republicans and Democrats, always trying to identify what the most important issue of our time is, the smartest solutions to it, and the fairest ways to think about it.
When the inquisition required him to drop his study of what the Roman Catholic Church insisted was not a heliocentric solar system, Galileo Galilei turned his energy to the less controversial question of how to stick a telescope onto a helmet. The king of Spain had offered a hefty reward to anyone who could solve the stubborn mystery of how to determine a ship's longitude while at sea: 6,000 ducats up front and another 2,000 per year for life. Galileo thought his headgear, with the telescope fixed over one eye and making its wearer look like a misaligned unicorn, would net him the reward. Determining latitude is easy for any sailor who can pick out the North Star, but finding longitude escaped the citizens of the 17th century, because it required a precise knowledge of time. That's based on a simple principle: Say you set your clock before sailing west from Greenwich.
Fox News Flash top headlines are here. Check out what's clicking on Foxnews.com. The Navy is getting into drones in a big way, with new plans to add 21 unmanned surface and underwater vessels over the next five years. The Navy just released its 30-year shipbuilding plan, which reflects a growing emphasis on the use of drones in maritime combat. Between now and 2026, the Navy aims to acquire 12 large unmanned surface vessels, one medium unmanned surface vessel and 8 extra-large unmanned underwater vessels, according to the plan.
Fox News Flash top headlines are here. Check out what's clicking on Foxnews.com. Attacking enemy cruise missiles, fighter jets, helicopters and longer-range high altitude ballistic missiles all present substantial threats to Navy surface ships, especially when multiple attacks arrive simultaneously. By and large, defending against incoming ballistic missiles and air and cruise missiles requires separate defensive systems … until now. A new family of SPY-6 radar systems is being quickly expanded by the U.S. Navy to incorporate a much wider swath of the fleet.
Tucked away in the 4,517-page annual defense bill awaiting signature is an overlooked piece of legislation on artificial intelligence (AI). It doesn't make every military weapon system autonomous or require brigades of robotic infantry. Instead, it's a sensible, 63-page plan establishing a civilian-led initiative to coordinate and accelerate investments in "trustworthy" artificial intelligence systems across the federal government. In passing this legislation, the United States Congress has demonstrated that it collectively realizes that AI will be transformative, and that urgent research and development is needed to ensure the United States remains the world leader in AI. Make no mistake, the "National Artificial Intelligence Initiative Act of 2020," also dubbed as "Division E" of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), is the closest thing to a national strategy on AI from the United States to be formally endorsed by Congress.
Dubai/Washington – An American nuclear-powered guided-missile submarine traversed the strategically vital waterway between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula on Monday, the U.S. Navy said, in a rare announcement that comes amid rising tensions with Iran. The Navy's 5th Fleet, based in Bahrain, said the Ohio-class guided-missile submarine USS Georgia, accompanied by two other warships, passed through the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow passageway through which a fifth of the world's oil supplies travel. The unusual transit in the Persian Gulf's shallow waters, aimed at underscoring American military might in the region, follows the killing last month of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, an Iranian scientist named by the West as the leader of the Islamic Republic's disbanded military nuclear program. It also comes some two weeks before the anniversary of the American drone strike near Baghdad airport in Iraq that killed top Iranian military commander Gen. Qassem Soleimani on Jan. 3. Iran has promised to seek revenge for both killings. The Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine's presence in Mideast waterways signals the U.S. Navy's "commitment to regional partners and maritime security with a full spectrum of capabilities," the Navy said, demonstrating its readiness "to defend against any threat at any time."
The U.S. Space Force, America's newest military branch, made headlines on Friday with the news that its members will henceforth be known as "Guardians." The name, whose selection caps off a process that lasted a year, officially owes its existence to an Air Force motto from 1983: "Guardians of the High Frontier." But unofficially, nerds for Marvel Comics and the video game Destiny alike see a somewhat different connection. On the Marvel front, the space-defending "Guardians" is quickly, obviously followed in fans' minds by "of the Galaxy." The cosmic super-team has been a formidable pop culture presence ever since the 2014 Marvel movie from director James Gunn starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradly Cooper, and Vin Diesel.
The U.S. Air Force has tested the ARTUμ integrated artificial intelligence system on the U-2 Dragon Lady strategic reconnaissance aircraft. This flight marks a major leap forward for national defense as artificial intelligence took flight aboard a military aircraft for the first time in the Department of Defense history. Air Combat Command's U-2 Federal Laboratory researchers developed ARTUµ and trained it to execute specific in-flight tasks that otherwise would be done by the pilot. During the reconnaissance flight, ARTUµ was responsible for the preliminary processing of information from the reconnaissance systems of the U-2 aircraft. At the same time, it must perform many more tasks, including monitoring the surrounding airspace and choosing the flight route.
As much as the US military relies on drones to bolster its aerial arsenal, it has still relied on human operators to guide its aircraft -- until now. Air Force Assistant Secretary Dr. Will Roper has revealed to Popular Mechanics that AI controlled a US military aircraft (and really, military system) for the first time, serving as the "co-pilot" aboard a U-2 Dragon Lady spy plane during a California flight on December 15th. ARTUμ, a variant of the μZero AI used for games like chess, had ultimate control over radar during a simulated missile strike on Beale Air Force Base. It determined when to focus on hunting for missiles and when to focus on self-preservation. Effectively, that made it the mission leader -- it wasn't flying, but it determined where the human pilot should fly.