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April 10, 2023

AI's Inhuman Advantage

By Paul Scharre

This article originally appeared in War on the Rocks.

When an AI fighter pilot beat an experienced human pilot 15-0 in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s AlphaDogfight competition, it didn’t just fly better than the human. It fought differently. Heron Systems’ AI agent used forward-quarter gunshots, when the two aircraft were racing toward each other head-to-head, a shot that’s banned in pilot training because of the risk of a collision.

AI agents’ victories demonstrate that machines can dramatically outperform humans in command and control, a potential major advantage in war.

One fighter pilot characterized the AI’s abilities as a “superhuman capability” making high-precision, split-second shots that were “almost impossible” for humans. Even more impressive, the AI system wasn’t programmed to fight this way. It learned this tactic all on its own. AI systems’ ability to perform not just better than humans, but to fight differently, is a major potential advantage in warfare.

Read the full article from War on the Rocks.

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