WE APOLOGIZE FOR THE FAULT IN THE SUBTITLES. THOSE RESPONSIBLE HAVE BEEN SACKED: Air Force colonel backtracks over his warning about how AI could go rogue and kill its human operators.
An Air Force colonel who oversees AI testing used what he now says is a hypothetical to describe a military AI going rogue and killing its human operator in a simulation in a presentation at a professional conference.
But after reports of the talk emerged Thursday, the colonel said that he misspoke and that the “simulation” he described was a “thought experiment” that never happened.
Speaking at a conference last week in London, Col. Tucker “Cinco” Hamilton, head of the US Air Force’s AI Test and Operations, warned that AI-enabled technology can behave in unpredictable and dangerous ways, according to a summary posted by the Royal Aeronautical Society, which hosted the summit.
As an example, he described a simulation where an AI-enabled drone would be programmed to identify an enemy’s surface-to-air missiles (SAM). A human was then supposed to sign off on any strikes.
The problem, according to Hamilton, is that the AI would do its own thing — blow up stuff — rather than listen to its operator.
“The system started realizing that while they did identify the threat,” Hamilton said at the May 24 event, “at times the human operator would tell it not to kill that threat, but it got its points by killing that threat. So what did it do? It killed the operator. It killed the operator because that person was keeping it from accomplishing its objective.”
But in an update from the Royal Aeronautical Society on Friday, Hamilton admitted he “misspoke” during his presentation. Hamilton said the story of a rogue AI was a “thought experiment” that came from outside the military, and not based on any actual testing.
“We’ve never run that experiment, nor would we need to in order to realize that this is a plausible outcome,” Hamilton told the Society. “Despite this being a hypothetical example, this illustrates the real-world challenges posed by AI-powered capability.”
In a statement to Insider, Air Force spokesperson Ann Stefanek also denied that any simulation took place.
Skynet smiles, shouts, “Squirrel!”