The Army launched its new AI task force and it's making people nervous

Military Tech
The M160 Robotic Mine Flail at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. (U.S. Army/Maj. Dan Marchik)

The Army launched its new Artificial Intelligence Task Force on February 1, and folks aren't universally thrilled.


The Task Force, based out of Carnegie Melon University's National Robotics Engineering Center and situated under the Army's new Futures Command, plans to "modernize processes used to equip and protect soldiers, enhance readiness and increase the Army's capabilities," according to a CMU press release.

It's first priorities are getting AI into humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, per CMU, as well as situational awareness and equipment maintenance. Army Secretary Mark Esper said in a press release that the task force and AFC will "identify existing and ongoing machine learning initiatives within the Army" and "identify a framework...for implementation of small machine learning projects" that can eventually pave the way for larger projects.

But some have concerns over how AI could be used in war, and eventually civilian law enforcement activities. Sure, SkyNet may be a work of fiction, but advocacy director at the Arms Division of Human Rights Watch, Mary Wareham, NEXTpittsburgh that things "are going to get out of hand" without explicit guidelines in place.

"We need to prevent the development of weapons systems that lack significant human control," Wareham said.

While CMU President Farnam Jahanian previously said that conversations about the ethical applications of AI within the military is one of the "important benefits" of having the task force working out of CMU, those concerns extend beyond the Pentagon The issue of "killer robots" came up last fall during U.N. meetings in Geneva, when the U.S. joined Russia, Israel, and others to block talks on a potential ban on fully autonomous weapons.

Silicon Valley has also had to confront the idea of developing AI for the military; Google said last year that the company would not develop AI for "weapons or other technologies whose principal purpose or implementation is to cause or directly facilitate injury to people," according to Wired.

But don't expect the Army to shy away from the research. At the task force's launch at CMU, NEXTpittsburgh reports that Espert said "lots of countries...would do this stuff regardless of what the international community says."

AI will eventually be "in everything we do" whether we're ready for it or not, but Army Futures Command commander Gen. John M. Murray said, per NEXTpittsburgh: "It is not a question of if these technologies will change the character of war, it is only a question of when."

SEE ALSO: This Is Not How 'Skynet' Begins, Air Force Says of Artificial Intelligence Efforts

WATCH NEXT: Army Pilot Tests ALIAS' Autonomy Capabilities in Demonstration Flight


"It's kind of like the equivalent of dropping a soda can into canyon and putting on a blindfold and going and finding it, because you can't just look down and see it," diver Jeff Goodreau said of finding the wreck.

The USS Eagle 56 was only five miles off the coast of Maine when it exploded.

The World War I-era patrol boat split in half, then slipped beneath the surface of the North Atlantic. The Eagle 56 had been carrying a crew of 62. Rescuers pulled 13 survivors from the water that day. It was April 23, 1945, just two weeks before the surrender of Nazi Germany.

The U.S. Navy classified the disaster as an accident, attributing the sinking to a blast in the boiler room. In 2001, that ruling was changed to reflect the sinking as a deliberate act of war, perpetuated by German submarine U-853, a u-boat belonging to Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine.

Still, despite the Navy's effort to clarify the circumstances surrounding the sinking, the Eagle 56 lingered as a mystery. The ship had sunk relatively close to shore, but efforts to locate the wreck were futile for decades. No one could find the Eagle 56, a small patrol ship that had come so close to making it back home.

Then, a group of friends and amateur divers decided to try to find the wreck in 2014. After years of fruitless dives and intensive research, New England-based Nomad Exploration Team successfully located the Eagle 56 in June 2018.

Business Insider spoke to two crew members — meat truck driver Jeff Goodreau and Massachusetts Department of Corrections officer Donald Ferrara — about their discovery.

Read More Show Less
(CIA photo)

Before the 5th Special Forces Group's Operational Detachment Alpha 595, before 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment's MH-47E Chinooks, and before the Air Force combat controllers, there were a handful of CIA officers and a buttload of cash.

Read More Show Less

The last time the world saw Marine veteran Austin Tice, he had been taken prisoner by armed men. It was unclear whether his captors were jihadists or allies of Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad who were disguised as Islamic radicals.

Blindfolded and nearly out of breath, Tice spoke in Arabic before breaking into English:"Oh Jesus. Oh Jesus."

That was from a video posted on YouTube on Sept. 26, 2012, several weeks after Tice went missing near Damascus, Syria, while working as a freelance journalist for McClatchy and the Washington Post.

Now that Tice has been held in captivity for more than seven years, reporters who have regular access to President Donald Trump need to start asking him how he is going to bring Tice home.

Read More Show Less

"Shoots like a carbine, holsters like a pistol." That's the pitch behind the new Flux Defense system designed to transform the Army's brand new sidearm into a personal defense weapon.

Read More Show Less

Sometimes a joke just doesn't work.

For example, the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service tweeted and subsequently deleted a Gilbert Gottfried-esque misfire about the "Storm Area 51" movement.

On Friday DVIDSHUB tweeted a picture of a B-2 bomber on the flight line with a formation of airmen in front of it along with the caption: "The last thing #Millenials will see if they attempt the #area51raid today."

Read More Show Less