The expert debunked the world sensation
The sensational news that the drone for the first time independently made a decision to murder and killed a person, seriously excited the public. The danger of using artificial intelligence in military affairs has not yet been fully appreciated, but it is obvious that combat vehicles, capable of deciding whether to kill a person or not, are terrifying. The publication “Army Standard” decided to figure out with the help of a leading military expert: was it really in the case of the UAV that the first step was taken towards the war of machines against man?
Recall that initially, the article appeared with a sensation in the New Scientist magazine. The magazine, citing a UN study, reported that the Turkish military quadrocopter Kargu-2, while in autonomous mode, killed a person during the armed conflict in Libya. The episode itself took place in March 2020, but this became known only now. The Libyan regular army used a Turkish drone, which supposedly independently chose targets for elimination, and for this, it did not need the instructions of the operator. As its victim, the drone chose a fighter from the ranks of the Libyan National Army, which is led by Khalifa Haftar. And supposedly this is the first recorded case in history when a drone committed murder without a human order.
However, upon closer examination of the UN report, it turned out that it does not directly mention the killing of a person by an uncontrolled drone. It notes that the Kargu-2 drone “tracked down and clashed” with the retreating Libyan fighters. But whether any particular person was attacked and killed by a drone is unknown.
In addition, the performance characteristics of the drone are also not very impressive. Kargu-2 weighs 15 kg and can be airborne for up to 30 minutes. It is equipped with explosives, fragments of which can hit enemy personnel and lightly armored vehicles. That is, it is a classic kamikaze drone that can hardly carry serious electronics to provide a “highly efficient autonomous mode.” Kargu-2 does have an automatic mode, but this is essentially a loitering ammunition mode – it received target designation, “locked” the target, fell from the sky and exploded.
So is it worth it to be afraid of “smart” drones that will fly over us and decide for themselves whether to execute or pardon? Here is what the leading military expert Alexei Leonkov told the Army Standard:
This is from the realm of fantasy. In fact, drones are misjudging. The fact is that the unmanned complex is the UAV itself and also a ground control station. In which the “brains”, the recognition system, and, of course, the operator. A drone, exaggerating, is a flying machine with an “eye” and possibly a weapon system. More sophisticated drones, such as the strategic Global Hawk, have, of course, very serious intelligence systems, but they also have data transmission systems. This concept has been adopted for a long time – only “eyes” and “ears” fly, and “brains” are on the ground. The fact is that in order for the UAV to make the decision to defeat itself, you need the command center, which is on the ground, to be crammed into this drone. And the same “Kargu” has only 15 kg of weight.
That is, the question is in the computing power of the UAV’s onboard computer?
Image processing is a very complex programmatic and mathematical task. A library of images must be kept so that he can determine that the tank is a tank, and not just a shed, and so on. If you carry out analytics onboard, you get a very large machine. It will be impossible to define a person exactly. The optics onboard have too poor a resolution for that. If we are talking about attack drones, then the weight of the weapons reduces the weight of reconnaissance equipment. And, accordingly, the optics are worse. The machine will be able to recognize a person with difficulty. So far, with the technologies that we have, this is unrealistic. For example, on Qasem Suleimani, who was eliminated in Iraq, ground groups worked. Identification was carried out by people – half of the staff at the airport where he flew was replaced by agents. No solution on my own – I saw it, I found it, determined and destroyed cannot be. Again, this is fantastic.
How does loitering ammunition work?
Loitering ammunition also has optics. But they need to be brought in and directed to the target. Typically, loitering ammunition works in tandem with a reconnaissance drone, which “hangs” high and identifies targets. Here, the operator determined that there was a tank, here – an air defense system. This is how they, for example, worked in Nagorno-Karabakh. And then the loitering ammunition is directed to this target, first along with the coordinates, and then “captures” it with its systems and precision strikes.
Let’s imagine: we know for sure that in the zone to which we are sending the drone, there is an armored personnel carrier, an air defense system, and a group of barmaley dug in. Is it possible to load three images into the drone’s memory and give the order: if you saw it, destroy it?
There will still be a mistake. The Americans did that. They supplied their “Reapers” (reconnaissance and attack unmanned aerial vehicle MQ-9 Reaper – author) with such images. But “Reapers” began to destroy both people with weapons and people without weapons: he has a crowd in his “photograph” and he “knows” – these are militants, he arrives – and there is a wedding. But he still bombed it. And the Americans abandoned this scheme. Because it does not give a 100% guarantee that a combat mission will be completed. Too many mistakes. Even in their instructions, they write that when the UAV independently enters the target area, the operator must again connect to it in order to correct its work. Especially if we are talking about a mobile target, such as military equipment or soldiers of any unit. Of course, when you have a library of images, how technology, objects can look “in digital”, the system makes recognition faster. A system that is on earth. Here a comparison takes place (data from the UAV “in digital” and in the library “in digital”) and the final image that the person is looking at is displayed. And it confirms – yes, these are tanks, I agree.
It turns out that the final decision still remains with the person.
Yes, a breakthrough has not happened yet.