The following is a point/counterpoint discussion about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and robots in future large scale ground combat. The point will be presented by an Army officer writing an article for an online military journal. The counterpoint will be presented by the same officer while his computer’s operating system, software suite, and the Pentagon Joint Service Provider thwart his attempt to write the article.
Point: Future combat will be lightning fast, violent, and lethal, requiring leaders to rely on artificial intelligence and machine learning to process massive amounts of intelligence and make decisions rapidly.
Counterpoint: [Smart card error. The smart card was not recognized. Please check that the card is inserted correctly and fits tightly] “Jesus … Alright, I’ll put the card back in juuuuust right for you. I hate this computer.”
Point: Near-peer adversaries will contest our forces in all domains, from mission receipt to crossing the line of departure. Our information and cyber warriors will be able to respond to threats in real time.
Counterpoint: [slams mouse down] “I just LOVE typing my pin number in six times when I open anything.”
Point: Soldiers at the squad level will have zettabytes of information at their fingertips. They will maneuver dispersed, alone and unafraid, massing synchronized effects on target with assured communications.
Counterpoint: [Please select a cert.] “Am I supposed to use my authentication cert or my email cert to log in? “[No valid certificates found.] “Fan-fucking-tastic, why would I want to be able to access the shared drive?”
Point: In order to impose multiple dilemmas on our adversary and minimize risk to U.S. forces, we will use artificially intelligent robots.
Counterpoint: [Microsoft Office Word is not responding. If you close the program, you might lose information] “Ummm.” [Clicks “wait for the program to respond”]
Point: These unmanned systems will coordinate attacks autonomously, based on the commander’s vision and intent, and destroy everything in their path.
Counterpoint: [:( your PC ran into a problem and needs to restart. We’re just collecting some error info, and then we’ll restart for you] “Wait, what the fuck? No, no, no. I haven’t saved in like … two hours. THIS CANNOT BE HAPPENING!”
Point: By employing task-based artificial intelligence, these systems will also improve our ability to distinguish legitimate targets from harmless civilians. They will minimize civilian casualties while maximizing lethality.
Counterpoint: [Smart card error. The smart card was not recognized. Please check that the card is inserted correctly and fits tightly] “DAMN YOU JOINT SERVICE PROVIDER! I PRAY TO GOD I SEE ONE OF YOU MOTHERFUCKERS IN THE HALLWAY!!!”
Duffel Blog reporters 29ReasonsWhy and Veishnoriets contributed to this article.