Robots That Will Live Inside the Human Body! How Will Be the Future?

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Soldiers on the battlefield may soon depend on artificial intelligence more than their own comrades.

Thus, it is not far-fetched to imagine that warriors will no longer need to be present on the battlefield, but will instead be able to remotely control sophisticated, intelligent, and sensor-laden weapons of war with intrinsic problem-solving abilities.

It would be an entirely new sort of conflict, and it may happen in the next 15 years or fewer.

While Army leaders are sure that humans will always be in the loop when the conflict becomes deadly, they are equally certain that science and innovation will be fully utilized to ensure future warfare.

And, in the face of what is widely expected to be deadly future battlefields, especially as weaponry lethality rises, a soldierless battlefield has a lot of appeals.

“Only a human person can offer context to a judgment, “As this technology matures and is integrated into a weapon system, those are really challenging days ahead.”

Prepare Yourself

According to Paul Scharre, a defense specialist and former Army Ranger who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, the most significant difficulty in artificial intelligence (AI), like with any new technology, will be recognizing its strengths and how it may best be employed in a military situation.

“Technology has changed how we conduct business, and we see these moments of really disruptive change when the style of fighting changes throughout the history of warfare,” Scharre added.

“We must be prepared for the possibility that fighting methods on the ground will evolve dramatically in the coming years.”

Finding the correct tasks in the right circumstances may be the key to success, he added, trying to warn that “uncontrolled environments” can pose challenges.

The Future of War: How Robots Living Inside the Human Body Will Shape Battle Tactics

According to Scharre, the right system does not yet exist. “None of the AI systems we’re talking about now demonstrate the kind of general-purpose intelligence that people have, where people can flexibly adjust to new circumstances on the fly,” he said.

Instead, he believes AI will be deployed more specifically to complement human warfighters.

Robots currently suffer constraints in their ability to learn new things like humans, thus AI systems are employed in conjunction with people, he said.

“The idea that we’ll just construct an AI system and then send it off on its own and it’ll just do its own thing and never check in with a person is not practical,” Scharre said.

Instead, Scharre said, the Department of Defense is considering a “centaur model” of human-machine teaming in which controlled, specified activities, such as airplane autopilot and cruise control in cars, are delegated to computers and watched by humans.

“The person is always in charge of getting the job done, but there may be times when it makes appropriate to delegate controlled-specific duties to the machine,” Scharre explained.

“There will simply be situations where we can use AI to our benefit, and the problem will be figuring out how to do so.”

A Helpful Technology

Much of the Army’s present AI capabilities are run or aided by humans, but senior officers envision a future in which these systems can be optionally operated, allowing soldier-robot teaming on the battlefield.

According to Brig. Gen. Matthew Easley, director of the Army Artificial Intelligence Task Force at the United States Army Futures Command, AI is an enabling technology for all modernization initiatives, from Future Vertical Lift and long-range precision fires to troop lethality.

“It’s crucial that we increase our current capabilities with AI,” Easley said in October at the Association of the United States Army Annual Conference and Exposition.

Existing unmanned aerial vehicles that fly alongside assault helicopters, for example, have low-level autonomous capabilities, he claims.

The Future of War How Robots Living Inside the Human Body Will Shape Battle Tactics

“[We’re] attempting to develop those systems so that these soldiers don’t have to spend all of their time focusing on remotely piloting these systems and can instead accomplish other jobs,” Easley added.

From Boston Dynamics’ robotic dog to the Army’s Robotic Manipulator, systems are being developed to serve as human counterparts and teammates.

“Roman” was designed with arms and hands to help remove heavy objects and other road debris from military vehicles’ paths, and it was recently tested to perform exercises as part of a decade-long research led by the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Army Research Laboratory and its partners.

According to the Army, Roman could clean debris, drag heavy objects, and open a container, and its army partners could give the robot vocal directions in natural language.

“It is a major success for the Army wishing to deploy robots because now robots can be utilized to… help decrease obstacles in a way that they couldn’t previously,” Stuart Young, a division chief at the Army Research Laboratory, said (ARL).

Developing Trust

Robots and soldiers practicing together, according to Ethan Stump, an ARL robotics scientist, can be one approach to creating trust.

“We anticipate a future in which robots will be a lot more organic asset,” Stump added. While not every soldier will be issued a robot, Stump envisions a future in which every squad would have a robot and soldiers will train with it—not only to learn how the robot will behave but also to learn how to react to and understand the robot.

“As a squad develops their own distinct tactics of how they prefer to operate together, the robot picks up on that, and it’s training with the squad,” Stump explained, adding that the robot would learn not only how to be a part of the squad, but also how to best operate within it.

The Future of War: How Robots Living Inside the Human Body Will Shape Battle Tactics

“Training becomes a two-way street,” Stump explained.

Robots will be able to learn by example in ways comparable to humans in the future, he claims, without the need for people to train the systems to understand new laws.

“We’ll be able to learn highly complex types of actions, moves, and behaviors simply by demonstration,” Stump added. Natural language, deep learning, and language grounding are being used by researchers to help robots understand their surroundings.

According to Young, this architecture enables soldiers to interact with robots in a more natural manner. “It allows soldiers to interact with the robot in the same way they would interact with a teammate.”

Us Vs Them

Trust between soldiers and robots is a complicated issue, Young said, because AI capabilities are typically seen with an us-versus-them mentality—and trust can be influenced by a robot’s transparency and predictable conduct.

“When you go hunting with a hunting dog, you train the dog to assist you hunt and perform things, and the dog’s actions may not be flawless, but they’re predictable,” Young explained. “It helps to build trust in the human or soldier in the system.”

According to new Army-led research, trust in a robot falls after it makes a mistake, even if it can explain its thinking process, although transparency from the robot can assist.

A small ground robot that generally interacts and communicates with an infantry squad navigated a training course while partnered with a person in this investigation. The pair responded to problems as they arose, and while the human always acted correctly, the robot occasionally made mistakes.

The Future of War: How Robots Living Inside the Human Body Will Shape Battle Tactics

The study found that when errors were made, the human’s trust and perceptions, as well as the robot’s reliability, were affected, and the human’s confidence in the robot’s reliability did not entirely recover, even if the robot made no more errors.

The us-versus-them mentality in human-robot teaming can influence how soldiers approach systems in real-life circumstances, leading to decreased cooperation between them.

Another ARL study found that humans see machines as outsiders through social categorization—the practice of categorizing people into groups based on characteristics—which might lead to decreased cooperation between them.

Bias can be overcome when the computer employs context clues, such as cooperative or competitive emotions, and its aim is clear, according to research.

Towards the Future

For the time being, it is unclear how the Army intends to incorporate robots into its formations and how it will address inevitable challenges such as soldiers dealing with glitches in a combat zone, protecting systems from cyberattacks, and the consequences of reduced soldier trust in robotic companions.

While AI is critical to helping the Army save lives, improve soldier performance, and preserve its worldwide competitive advantage, McCarthy believes it will impact the future in more ways than Americans are prepared for.

“We’ll have a person in the loop, but that’s something policymakers will have to deal with in the coming years,” McCarthy said. “Will China and Russia behave similarly?”

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