Artificial intelligence, or AI, may never simulate human intelligence, but it’s still better at some tasks than humans are. Disconcertingly, one of those tasks is “blowing other humans out of the sky.” And not only can this AI outfly a human, it can do it on a computer anybody can pick up at Best Buy.
The University of Cincinnati has been building an AI named Alpha to improve military drones. The idea is not to teach the drone how to operate completely on its own, but rather to research how AI could improve them. For example, if a drone gets a missile launched at it, it could automatically avoid it instead of waiting for its human operator to notice. But until recently, Alpha had only fought other AI opponents.
And it had done well, but they wanted to see what Alpha would do against a human. So they put Gene Lee, a retired Air Force colonel, in the chair to take Alpha down a peg. And he couldn’t do it, scoring no kills and getting shot down every simulation. The kicker is that Alpha was running on a $500 PC at the time, and requires so little computing power it can be fit on a Raspberry Pi, a computer you can pick up for $35.
It pulls it off with “genetic fuzzy tree” programming. Basically, instead of assuming, as most computers do, that something is true or false, Alpha has a range of values it can pick from. And since computers can only make one decision at a time, Alpha has a “tree” it flows through at lightning speed to figure out how to fight back. Alpha is just a rough draft, too. Nobody working on it thinks it should be considered flight ready. But, as they refine it and improve its simulator environment, it’ll get better and might eventually be loaded onto drones pilots can deploy to help them in dogfights, and put on munitions to better guide them. Or, you know, take over the world. That might also be a viable option.
(via PC Mag)