Last week, a number of media outlets pounced on the idea the U.S. Army may be trying to turn its gun duties over to artificial intelligence, prompting a flurry of headlines about robotic killing machines and allusions to the popular “Terminator” franchise. The truth, however, isn’t quite so apocalyptic, and may well help make American trigger-pullers more capable and accurate in a fight.
Ominous name notwithstanding, ATLAS, which stands for Advanced Targeting and Lethality Automated System, doesn’t intend to actually fire any rounds itself. Instead, the program is intended to aid human war-fighters in identifying, prioritizing, and engaging threats through an advanced targeting apparatus. ATLAS would help spot enemy positions and determine which ones pose the greatest threat to American forces. It could also assist with accuracy by ensuring the barrel of the weapon is pointed precisely at an identified threat, but the act of pulling the trigger–of ending a life– would still remain squarely in the soldier’s hands.
“Envision it as a second set of eyes that’s just really fast,” Army engineer Don Reago told Breaking Defense, “[like] an extra soldier in the tank.”
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