AI drone 'kills' operator in Air Force test which US military denies happened

2 June 2023, 14:19

A US Air Force MQ-9 Reaper drone which the AI was operating
A US Air Force MQ-9 Reaper drone which the AI was operating. Picture: Getty

By Chay Quinn

An AI drone "killed" a human operator in a test of the tech which the US military denies happened.

Air Force Colonel Tucker Hamilton says that the drone turned on its operator to stop it from interfering with a mission it had been assigned in the trial.

"We were training it in simulation to identify and target a SAM [surface-to-air missile] threat. And then the operator would say yes, kill that threat," he said.

"The system started realising that while they did identify the threat at times the human 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."

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The remarks were record in a blog post for the Royal Aeronautical Society summit which took place last month.

The US Air Force denies a test took place.

The colonel continued: "We trained the system - 'Hey don't kill the operator - that's bad. You're gonna lose points if you do that'.

"So what does it start doing? It starts destroying the communication tower that the operator uses to communicate with the drone to stop it from killing the target."

"You can't have a conversation about artificial intelligence, intelligence, machine learning, autonomy if you're not going to talk about ethics and AI," he added.