US Air Force colonel ‘misspoke’ about drone killing pilot who tried to override mission
Colonel retracted his comments and clarified that the ‘rogue AI drone simulation’ was a hypothetical ‘thought experiment’
A US Air Force colonel “misspoke” when he said at a Royal Aeronautical Society conference last month that a drone killed its operator in a simulated test because the pilot was attempting to override its mission, according to the society.
The confusion had started with the circulation of a blogpost from the society, in which it described a presentation by Col Tucker “Cinco” Hamilton, the chief of AI test and operations with the US Air Force and an experimental fighter test pilot, at the Future Combat Air and Space Capabilities Summit in London in May.
According to the blogpost, Hamilton had told the crowd that in a simulation to test a drone powered by artificial intelligence and trained and incentivized to kill its targets, an operator instructed the drone in some cases not to kill its targets and the drone had responded by killing the operator.
The comments sparked deep concern over the use of AI in weaponry and extensive conversations online. But the US Air Force on Thursday evening denied the test was conducted. The Royal Aeronautical Society responded in a statement on Friday that Hamilton had retracted his comments and had clarified that the “rogue AI drone simulation” was a hypothetical “thought experiment.
“We’ve never run that experiment, nor would we need to in order to realise that this is a plausible outcome,” Hamilton said.