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The Pentagon wants AI to detect nuclear threats before they happen

Published Jun 5th, 2018 11:34PM EDT
Pentagon Nuclear Missiles
Image: Shutterstock

The Pentagon is integrating artificial intelligence (AI) in its efforts to put a stop to nuclear threats. The goal of the new program is to offer the military advanced information about a potential risk, and ample time for politicians to find diplomatic solutions.

In a worst-case scenario, the system would — in theory! — know in advance that a nuclear missile has been fired and take appropriate measure to prevent it from reaching the US.

The secret program wasn’t reported on in the past, Reuters reports, and it could help the US deal with threats from North Korea and other nations with nuclear capabilities.

The goal of the project is for AI to quickly interpret massive amounts of data coming from satellites and other sources and determine whether a nuclear threat is real.

The Trump administration has apparently proposed tripling funding in next year’s budget to $83 million for one of the AI-driven missile programs.

The pilot project is focused on North Korea, something that hasn’t been reported before. “Washington is increasingly concerned about Pyongyang’s development of mobile missiles that can be hidden in tunnels, forests, and caves,” and the AI system would help generate early discoveries of potential attacks as well as alerts.

A human would still ultimately call the shots, so AI would not trigger a response automatically after discovering a threat.

The Pentagon’s interest in AI isn’t a secret. Tech companies including Google have been working with the government on a Project Maven initiative that explores the use of AI to identify objects in drone video. Several Google employees protested against Google’s involvement in the business of war not too long ago. A few days ago, reports said Google would end the contract with the Pentagon on Project Maven.

Even if the Pentagon is exploring the use of AI to deal with nuclear threats, the program is still in its infancy. Further advancements in object recognition are required, the report notes, to eliminate the chances of mistakes.

Chris Smith
Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he closely follows the events in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises. Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.