The U.S. Air Force allowed an artificial-intelligence algorithm to control sensor and navigation systems on a U2 Dragon Lady spy plane in a training flight Tuesday, officials said, marking what is believed to be the first known use of AI onboard a U.S. military aircraft.
No weapons were involved, and the plane was steered by a pilot. Even so, senior defense officials touted the test as a watershed moment in the Defense Department's attempts to incorporate AI into military aircraft, a subject that is of intense debate in aviation and arms control communities.
"This is the first time this has ever happened," said Assistant Air Force Secretary Will Roper.
Former Google chief executive Eric Schmidt, who previously headed the Pentagon's Defense Innovation Board, described Tuesday's flight test as "the first time, to my knowledge, that you have a military system integrating AI, probably in any military."
The AI system was deliberately designed without a manual override in order to "provoke thought and learning in the test environment," Air Force spokesman Josh Benedetti said in an email.
From Anchorage Daily News
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