Man vs. Machine: Army discusses adding AI to its fighter jets


China’s decision to introduce a two-seat variant of its fifth-generation J-20 stealth fighter raises what one might call one of the defining discussions or debates of our time, regarding scope, utility. or the limits of artificial intelligence.

Would an additional pilot, who could add additional weight and external contours to the aircraft, potentially reducing the aircraft’s stealth properties, provide tactical advantages that advanced computer technologies cannot?

Autonomy thanks to artificial intelligence, computer processing speeds and their ability to organize and analyze data in real time have all advanced so rapidly that some question the extent to which most fighter jets can have unmanned capabilities. So much has already been said about the emerging sixth-generation Air Force fighter, which reportedly incorporates unmanned capability. A few years ago, former Secretary of the Navy Ray Maybus had raised the possibility that the F-35 fighter plane would become the last “manned” fighter to exist.

Computer algorithms allowing analyzes in near real time have informed certain experiments and simulations in which computerized, unmanned fighter planes prevailed in aerial combat against human pilots, or at least succeeded in many ways. So, given advancements in technology, why would an extra person be added at a time when humans are, if at all, increasingly withdrawn or reduced from operations? Machines are more and more efficient combat functions faster than humans, which increases the likelihood that more combat drones will emerge in the future.

It seems clear that the focus of the debate or discussion is based on the extent to which attributes unique to human cognition can be closely related or even reproduced by machines? Many say. . . never completely.

How can mathematical engineering computer algorithms process, express or analyze subjective phenomena such as human feelings, intuition or elements of intention? Humans are made up of a delicate, complex, and yet somewhat mysterious mix of thoughts, feelings, and psychological complexities, many of which simply might not be calculable by machines.

Perhaps this is why much of the mainstream wisdom when it comes to weapon development is based on the concept of the human-machine interface, something that could easily be characterized as a way to optimize operational functionality essentially by leveraging or exploiting the best of both in support of each other. Machines acquire, analyze, process, and transmit data at speeds and in ways that of course humans never could, but humans can use them to perform the kind of subjective analysis of multiple factors not. nested mathematics peculiar to the human mind.

So, will there be a two-seater American F-14 type stealth fighter jet? Who knows?

Kris Osborn is the editor of Defense for the National Interest. Osborn previously served in the Pentagon as a highly trained expert in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army – Acquisition, Logistics and Technology. Osborn also worked as an on-air presenter and military specialist on national television networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also holds an MA in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.


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