After US soldiers train a military robot to recognize human enemies, they should find ways to outsmart the technology. Tactical cardboard boxes were apparently particularly helpful.
Since the end of the eighties, cardboard boxes have been part of the basic equipment of a now world-famous secret agent. We’re not talking about James Bond, but about “Solid Snake”, the main character of the “Metal Gear” series of games. As early as 1987, the virtual soldier camouflaged himself with a box for the first time – and made this simple but extremely effective camouflage socially acceptable.
Who does not know: In “Metal Gear” titles it is possible to hide from the enemy in a box. And sometimes so effectively that you can stand directly in front of your opponent or even walk without being spotted.
Artificial intelligence should recognize people
In the book “Four Battlegrounds: Power in the Age of Artificial Intelligence” by military expert Paul Scharre, the author describes how this camouflage seems to have found its way into the real world.
It says a group of US Marines helped the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), an agency of the US Department of Defense, train an artificial intelligence. The soldiers walked around in the field of view of a robot for a total of six days so that the system could memorize how people move and how you can recognize them.
According to the book, on the seventh day, it was decided to check the training progress. The Marines were instructed to find ways to override the detection. The military robot was placed on a traffic island and the soldiers were ordered to approach from a long distance without being recognized.
What the AI doesn’t know doesn’t bother them
A total of eight out of eight soldiers managed to reach the robot without an alarm. The methods were varied. Two particularly fit marines had completed 300 meters with somersaults, another soldier had dressed up as a Christmas tree and approached “like a Christmas tree”. Unfortunately, there is no detailed description of what it should have looked like.
Meanwhile, two soldiers must have remembered their youth and formative video games. Because together, the two put a large box over themselves and approached the robot unrecognized. Luckily for them, the robot doesn’t seem to have had microphones, as an engineer reports that the two couldn’t stop giggling.
The reason why all the soldiers could easily reach the robot is obvious: the artificial intelligence had never been trained for the unusual ideas. She was just looking for natural movements of people that the system had previously learned. That’s why the Somersault Marines and the Christmas Tree Soldier were also successful – neither of which were recognized by the algorithm as a danger or a person.
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