Military robots are quickly becoming common tools of war. However, with many military robotics — such as a robot dog with a gun on its back — being AI-based, there’s a lot of worry over their performance.
It would seem that the military is also worried, as AI-equipped robots now have to pass “common sense” training before they can be deployed. There’s no knowing what will happen to them upon failure; perhaps they’ll send them to a junkyard.
Common sense training
Legged robots — both bi and quadrupedal —have been utilised for multiple military procedures, but The Pentagon is unhappy with their performance. According to a report from c4isrnet, they want robots to learn from their experiences, similar to human beings.
Supposedly, this will be better than the current way robotics are used. For example, contemporary bots have to memorize data and transfer them to other models when they get broken. If not, new robots are essentially stupid.
Results have varied, as some robots have been able to grasp different objects and learn how to adjust to carrying dynamic loads. Some four-legged robots have also learned how to adapt to different terrains as part of common sense training.
“It’s tricky to really measure how much the systems understand,” said Howard Shrobe, the program manager for DARPA’s Machine Common Sense project. “Sometimes just a raw measurement of performance may not be enough — you need to really tease out what’s actually going on.”
As some of you might have feared, the common sense training for these four-legged robots is a precursor to having these bots replace humans in the battlefield. Due to the lack of common sense most robots have, the military feels that putting them in war as is wouldn’t be a good move. Common sense training will eventually lead to them learning what humans know on the battlefield, though that should still take a while.
“This ability to train robots quickly, simply by letting them explore in a simulated world is something that would be attractive to everybody who works in that field,” Shrobe said.
Interestingly enough, Shrobe also says that they’re interested in these robots going beyond the battlefield. He didn’t explain it beyond that but robots are becoming more ingrained in our society and this could mean having them patrol the streets instead of police, which could be horrifying.