Artificial intelligence defeated man in fighter combat

Programmers from all over the world are trying to create artificial intelligence that surpasses human capabilities. In ten years, computer algorithms have been able to beat people in board and computer games, but this is all just the beginning. Artificial intelligence recently created by the American company Heron Systems defeated a man in an air battle in an armed aircraft. Of course, no one began to launch an unmanned fighter into the air, giving the command to destroy an aircraft with a real pilot on board. The dogfight took place in virtual reality, created inside the FlightGear aircraft simulator. In total, five virtual battles were held and artificial intelligence won all of them. According to the pilot, who fought against the computer, his opponent had one important advantage.

F-16 fighter that was simulated inside virtual reality

Artificial intelligence versus human

The AlphaDogfight Trials competition was hosted by the US Department of Defense as part of the Air Combat Evolution program. The project involves the creation of artificial intelligence, which is able to take control of fighters and effectively conduct close combat. Ideally, such a system would eliminate the need for pilots on board to aim at enemies and allow them to concentrate on developing strategy. In addition, this system can be used in unmanned fighters so that they can conduct reconnaissance of enemy territories. If necessary, they will be able to repulse the enemies, and if they are destroyed, then it’s not a pity – at least there will be no real person inside.

Boeing recently announced development of the fastest reconnaissance helicopter

The first round of the AlphaDogfight Trials took place in 2019. Within its framework, eight companies developed air combat systems and one by one opposed the system developed by the US Department of Defense. Since the difficulty level was low, all systems passed the test successfully. At the second stage, the difficulty was increased, but all eight companies still passed to the third stage. You've probably already heard the names of some of the participants – among them were Lockheed Martin and Heron Systems. In the third stage, the algorithms fought each other inside the FlightGear simulator, which simulates the F-16 Fighting Falcon light fighter.

FlightGear simulator is available to everyone. Here is the link to the official site

In the third stage of testing, the victory was won by artificial intelligence, created by Heron Systems. Subsequently, he was sent to battle against a real person – an instructor of the US Air Force with the callsign "Banhger". As mentioned above, there were five air battles in total, during which the Heron System turned out to be more cunning than a real person without any problems. According to the pilot, the advantage of artificial intelligence was that it did not think according to a template and made decisions that were completely unexpected for the enemy. You can watch the recording of the event on the DARPA YouTube channel .

Artificial intelligence training

According to Defense One , Heron Systems could train their system in two ways. First, they could simply download a set of rules that are known to all pilots into the computer. For example, information that you must not touch the ground, and when you see an enemy, you need to shoot. Second, they could teach the system to fly a virtual fighter by trial and error. He could hit the ground a million times and crash into an enemy, but he would eventually figure out how to fly correctly. Subsequently, he could well develop his own methods of defeating the enemy.

For the audience, the virtual battle looked like this

Apparently, Heron Systems chose the second path. In fact, they put a small child on the control panel of a complex mechanism and provided him with opportunities to study it on his own. Thanks to powerful computers, artificial intelligence was able to make decisions and make mistakes until it achieved perfect results. According to Senior Machine Learning Engineer Ben Bell, their system has gone through at least 4 billion simulations and gained at least 12 years of experience.

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I think that today we are witnessing the beginning of the symbiosis of man and machine. Imagine a person sitting inside a fighter jet equipped with artificial intelligence. The person will be able to focus on what they do best, such as strategic thinking. And artificial intelligence is able to focus on what it does best, namely in the direct conduct of the battle, – said Timothy Grayson, director of strategic technology, US Department of Defense.

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On the topic of the victory of artificial intelligence over humans, you can also read an article about how the Project Debater system won out in a dispute with Israeli presenter Dan Zafir. The topic of debate was the allocation of subsidies for space exploration and telemedicine.

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