Department of Defense outlines Skynet and Terminator development | Mar 30, 2012

By: Matthew Humphries

Technology is taking an ever larger role in the systems we rely on every day. The military is not immune to this, and in fact helps push forward innovation if it benefits them. Multiple projects funded by DARPA prove this.

However, we have seen a fictional take on where too much reliance on machines and automation can lead. Yes, I’m referring to Skynet as depicted in the Terminator movies. Now it seems the US Department of Defense is heading in exactly that direction with its research projects and investment.

Zachary J. Lemnios holds the position of Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering in the US Government. Yesterday he released a letter entitled, “The Department of Defense Is Placing a Big Bet on Big Data.” through a new government site called the Defense Innovation Marketplace. It broadly outlines how new systems are being developed and brought online to “understand and interpret” the growing amount of data being gathered by military sensors.

White House ‘Big Data’ Push Means Big Bucks for Drone Brains

That’s not the worrying bit, though. These so-called Big Data projects have a $250 million budget to spend every year, and one of the projects underway could be named Skynet it’s so close to the artificial intelligence seen in the movies.

The project does not have a name yet, but it could be multiple projects as far as we know. The aim is clear, though. The DoD wants to create a system that combines sensing, perception, and the ability to make decisions to create a “truly autonomous system.” The end result? A system that will be “agile … maneuver and understand their environment … make decisions by themselves … know when to call upon a human.”

I think they should call it the T-100 as it’s a first attempt, don’t you?

To achieve this intelligent, autonomous system the DoD is investing heavily in tools and techniques to analyze large amounts of data, that offer the ability to understand and react to real-world conditions, and act dynamically without human intervention. So basically a network of machines acting on their own based on the situation and commands sent down from a central command system.

There is also a call for ideas to aid the project with 20 open solicitations available. Who is going to step up and offer to develop a foolproof kill switch?

Read more at Defense Innovation Marketplace (PDF)

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