Pentagon accelerates development of new tech to keep pace with China

The Pentagon plans to field thousands of self-driving cars equipped with artificial intelligence by 2026 to keep pace with China’s military.

Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks said the plan, called “Replicator,” would “revitalize progress in America’s slow transition of military innovation that leverages smaller, smarter, cheaper, and more numerous platforms.” He stated that the aim is to Associated Press reported.

The report provides few details, such as how the program will be funded or how quickly the Pentagon can actually accelerate development of new vehicles, but the program does have implications for how the U.S. thinks about the future of war. Are you seeing any changes, especially the following? China continues to advance its own AI programs.

Phil Siegel, founder of the Center for Advanced Preparedness and Threat Response Simulation (CAPTRS), believes the rapid push toward AI weapons is akin to a nuclear arms race.

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American and Chinese flags fly at Genting Snow Park ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato, File)

“The end point here seems to be something like nuclear weapons, where the highest powers eventually have sophisticated autonomous lethal weapons and agree not to use them, or at least if they can use them. ‘We’re going to have to do it.’ It’s a clear escalation,” Siegel told FOX News Digital.

Replicator is just one of many AI-focused projects being developed by the Pentagon, and many experts believe it’s only a matter of time before the U.S. has a fully autonomous lethal weapon. . Defense officials continue to insist that these weapons have an element of human control, which some experts believe is an important consideration in their development.

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“Autonomous AI weapons are inevitable at this stage of the game. China is developing autonomous AI weapons, and so must we,” said Samuel Mangold, editor-in-chief of The Federalist. Rennett told FOX News Digital. “In May, the Guardian reported that an AI-controlled Air Force drone went out of control during a virtual test conducted by the U.S. military. “The AI ​​chose to kill the human operator” objectively. “

Mangold-Rennette said the report found no harm to people in the apparent simulation, and although defense officials later said it was a “thought experiment” and not a true simulation, this still It added that it showed the technology was worth approaching carefully. .

“We need to ensure that humans always remain in control of ‘autonomous’ weapons systems and do not become dependent on or vulnerable to hostile communications infrastructure, such as China’s vast 5G network. “There is,” Mangold-Renett said.

According to the Associated Press, the Pentagon has 800 unclassified AI-related projects, many of which are still being tested. However, the replicator’s schedule is seen as potentially “overly ambitious” and may be intended to keep rivals such as China guessing, the report said. .

Chinese navy ship

Chinese naval fleet departs for Russia. (LiLi Yun/Xinhua via Getty Images Yun/Xinhua via Getty Images)

Aiden Buzzetti, president of the Bull Moose Project, argued that this development is a good thing, pointing to the size of China’s military compared to the United States.

“One of the main benefits of autonomous weapons for the United States is that they serve as a force multiplier. The Chinese military is a force to be reckoned with – they have more personnel, more ships than the U.S. “in the Pacific,” Buzzetti told FOX News Digital. “If AI tools can be designed and deployed effectively, the U.S. military will have more real-time information, less bureaucratic logjam, and better ability to compete with numerically superior forces. ”

But Buzzetti also cited the dangers of “autonomous” design, arguing that humans don’t want to “completely lose control of the machines they’re building.”

What is artificial intelligence (AI)?

“A program that allows you to decide who to target and kill always leaves room for error,” Buzzetti said. “The big challenge here is to create something reliable enough to be effective in a military role without the possibility of making mistakes that could injure military personnel or civilians.”

Despite the new and dangerous arms race landscape, Christopher Alexander, chief analytics officer at Pioneer Development Group, said that current AI tools designed for defense are primarily used for “routine administrative and analytical tasks. He emphasized that the focus is on “strengthening people who do things.”

XQ-58A Valkyrie in flight

An XQ-58A Valkyrie demonstrates separation of the ALTIUS-600 small unmanned aircraft system during a test at the U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground Proving Ground in Arizona, March 26, 2021. This test was the first time the armory door was opened. Flight. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Air Force)

“There are very few current programs that involve lethal weapons systems, and they always involve humans making moral decisions,” Alexander told Fox News Digital. “The key ability of AI to support the Department of Defense comes from how it improves decision-making. From using AI to reduce the fog of war to greater clarity, AI can enable faster and clearer decisions and end wars.” There will be fewer casualties. ”


Alexander believes that in the future, AI will eventually almost completely remove “key decision makers” from the battlefield, but stressed that China is unlikely to catch up.

“They rarely innovate in defense technology, and the United States should be far more concerned about China stealing American technology than it is about developing something better,” Alexander said.