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January 24, 2023

Marines Outwitted an AI Security Camera by Hiding in a Cardboard Box and Pretending to Be Trees

Featuring Paul Scharre

Source: Task and Purpose

Journalist Max Hauptman

In Paul Scharre’s new book Four Battlegrounds: Power in the Age of Artificial Intelligence, Scharre recounts the story of one AI experiment that was disrupted by a squad of Marines who innovated new ways to sneak around and avoid detection. In just a day, the Marines figured out that the best way to approach an artificial intelligence system designed to identify human beings is to, well, not look like a human.

In practical terms, that meant standing behind a tree or just throwing a cardboard box over their heads.

The artificial intelligence in question was developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Squad X program. The technology was designed to maximize “a squad’s situational awareness, while the autonomous systems allow squads to increase their battle space and area of influence,” according to DARPA.

“What DARPA was working on was developing the ability to identify people in complex urban environments,” said Scharre. “And sense people approaching the squad.”

Read the full story and more from Task and Purpose.


  • Paul Scharre

    Vice President and Director of Studies

    Paul Scharre is the Vice President and Director of Studies at CNAS. He is the award-winning author of Four Battlegrounds: Power in the Age of Artificial Intelligence. His firs...