New research suggests AI progress means we need to consider “minotaur warfighting”


A new Monash University-led paper in the journal of the US Army War College suggests that artificial intelligence-led soldiers might be more than a match for human-controlled robots.

A statement from Monash on Tuesday explained that the research showed AIs were better at the required cognitive tasks relevant to the battlefield than robots were at performing physical tasks carried out by humans.

The article in Parameters was led by Monash Professor of Philosophy Robert Sparrow, with University of Twente Dr Adam Henschke. 

“When humans and intelligent machines work together in teams in industry today, it is often the machines who are doing the mental work while humans do the physical work,” said Sparrow in the statement.

“We think that will be true in the military as well.”

An example given was an Amazon delivery, where a destination is determined by a program, but a human drives the delivery car.

The paper points out that AI research is moving ahead faster than robotics research, and therefore AI “heads” trump robot “bodies”.

The authors believe the mythical minotaur — a creature with a man’s body and a bull’s head — is a more appropriate model versus the current doctrine of human-robot teaming, likened to a centaur, which has the head and arms of a man and the body of a horse.

“Eventually, the pursuit of victory may require handing over command to machines and victory may be determined by which force has the better AI,” added Sparrow.

“Given the pace at which AI is being developed there is an urgent need to consider the implications of minotaur warfighting, both for the effectiveness of the fighting forces of the future and for the human beings who will increasingly fight wars at the direction of machines.”

Picture: credit US Army

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