Drone Swarms: Enthusiastic pros and cynical cons

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Drone Swarms: Enthusiastic pros and cynical cons

Postby shiv » 20 Nov 2017 22:18

I start this topic in the light of a recent conversation and my reading/watching of videos about swarms of the future emerging primarily from China and the US. The information I have, which I will summarize below, are the enthusiastic pros and I am going to post my cynical cons after that. Hoping to spark a discussion that informs and educates.

So far as I have seen/heard swarms of UAVS are smart enough to coordinate with each other while independently performing some task. Of course all the videos I see are much worse than Avatar, Star wars and Baahubali when it comes to animation and effects, but the enthusiasts point out that these swarms will stick together in a cloud or disperse into several clouds - and each can serve as a eye in the sky or carry a little bomb load and swarm in on a target.

This is how far the descriptions go - and the next sentence is usually "Oh this is going to change the face of warfare!"

The cynic in me says: "Ho hum. Tell me another one. I have heard too many tales of game changers that either failed to appear or appeared and failed to change the game"

For starters let me quote the specs of "Perdix" drones and then be kind and give a little leeway. Perdix drones that can swarm weigh 290 grams each. fly at 100 kmph for 20 minutes - which would give them a straight line range of 30-35 km. Less if they are circling.

OK let me create, for convenience (and to offer a handicap against my cynicism) a slightly bigger drone - say one that weighs 750 grams. The camera bit may be 50 grams - you do get them. What about explosive. Let us say 150 grams of explosive. That is an excellent and deadly weight as much as a grenade. So with this payload the drone gets 600 grams for motor, battery, propulsion comm etc (twice that of the Perdix). Let me give this a range of say 50 km straight line, or 30 km with circling and swarming.

How would the 50 drones be delivered. Typically they would have to be launched within 30 km of a target. A mother aircraft has to get that close. Or else they have to be delivered by UAV. Or maybe a rocket that opens up above the target at an altitude of 5-6 km and releases the swarm. 250 such UAVs in a swarm would by themselves weigh under 200 kg, but packing them into a small volume may be the real

Extrapolating from the size of Perdix drones I am assuming that a 750 gram drone will be 20 cm long x 10cm X 10cm. Some games with a calculator tell me that maybe 70-100 can just be squeezed into a cylinder the size of a 500 kg bomb. The lower figure is probably more accurate

In theory - say 150 drones of this hypothetical description can swarm in on a target 30 km away and pepper it with a total of 150 grenades worth of explosive - amounting to 20 kg explosive or 2 artillery shells worth in grenade sized explosions. And this is my "hypothetical drone" not the existing ones which are much smaller and will carry smaller explosive loads and have lesser endurance.

Several questions stem from this.

What use would such a weapon be? If the launch has to be from an aircraft - it needs to come 30 km from target. If a UAV launches it - the UAV needs a payload capacity to carry a cylinder (or several smaller cylinders" the size of large bombs - so a large UAV. The explosive amounts may be useless against armour but will have an effect on soft skinned vehicles. Encampments with men in tents will be vulnerable - but a simple wire mesh cage set up around a vulnerable target may simply stop the drone. Yeah they will work a few times but an adversary will soon catch on.

Finally - what is the performance of a micro-drone at 18,000 feet?

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Re: Drone swarms: Enthusiastic pros and cynical cons

Postby NRao » 21 Nov 2017 00:59

A few observations, in no particular order:

* Typically, "drones" that attack to destroy value assets are known as Loitering munition. The Israeli Harop is a good example. And, the concept of Loitering munition has been there since 1990s. They do have some built-in decision making to ensure that, if there are more than one loitering, they both do not attack the same asset. I think the Brahmos too has some intelligence that expects two or more to communicate with each other so they do not step on each other's toes.

* In "Drone swarm" the emphasis is on "swarm" - as in the ability to communicate with each other. So, in the Predix example, the goals were "collective decision-making, adaptive formation flying, and self-healing". Within all that the emphasis is on "decision-making" (DM). No DM, nothing else happens and there is no "swarm"

* Current thinking of a "swarm" is to simulate to confuse - simulate many planes to confuse radars, etc. But do it intelligently

* Swarms are still in their infancy (in the military). The challenge -as one would imagine - is how to survive in a deadly hostile environment - like 200 miles inland in China. Which is why a "Swarm" needs autonomy - DM. I think it will take some 10-20 years to nail some of these components. It should be closely tied to the "6th Gen" craft they are dreaming up. AI is coming along. BUT, China is as good at it as the US. So, really no advantage there. (BTW, China is working on AI to let a pilot "know" where an enemies plane would be at a given point in time. FWIW)(More to that)

* "Drones" in a "Swarm" are typically called micro-drones - they are designed to be small, light weight, etc. AND are expendable

* In the US, Civies call them "Drones", while the military calls them UAV or Pilotless ...... Helps while searching.

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Re: Drone swarms: Enthusiastic pros and cynical cons

Postby shiv » 21 Nov 2017 07:40

NRao wrote:
* In "Drone swarm" the emphasis is on "swarm" - as in the ability to communicate with each other. So, in the Predix example, the goals were "collective decision-making, adaptive formation flying, and self-healing". Within all that the emphasis is on "decision-making" (DM). No DM, nothing else happens and there is no "swarm"

* Current thinking of a "swarm" is to simulate to confuse - simulate many planes to confuse radars, etc. But do it intelligently

* Swarms are still in their infancy (in the military).

I think drone swarms and loitering munitions like Harop should not be mixed simply because Harop has a sizeable warhead (>20 kg) which is itself more than the weight of 60 Predix drones. There are never going to be Harop swarms.

But I must point out that the articles that are coming out about swarms are primarily from Infotech/Robotics sources rather than militaries - other than China. To me it looks like an idea searching for an application and in fact I can provide applications that no one will want.

Let me repeat that I think drone swarms are not likely to carry enough firepower or have enough range for serious military applications any time soon. However they can be used effectively by terrorists. The swarm of drones idea has everything that would be attractive to a terrorist group or a terrorist group funded by a state. They are cheap and can be mass manufactured. Components from say China will be available off-the shelf. They can be bought in numbers and could be programmable. Their range may be too short for militaries but 20-30 km is more than adequate for a terrorist group to wreak havoc. For example a swarm of Perdix like drones each carrying just 50 grams of explosive can be sent to disrupt a political meeting. Or maybe the spectators in a cricket of football match can be massacred by a swarm of drones like this. Or a busy shopping area or music concert.

I predict that these swarms will be more useful for terrorism than standard military applications. That is what will be "game changing"

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Re: Drone swarms: Enthusiastic pros and cynical cons

Postby NRao » 21 Nov 2017 08:02

shiv wrote:I think drone swarms and loitering munitions like Harop should not be mixed simply because Harop has a sizeable warhead (>20 kg) which is itself more than the weight of 60 Predix drones. There are never going to be Harop swarms.


You are right.

The flip side is true too. Ref below **

But I must point out that the articles that are coming out about swarms are primarily from Infotech/Robotics sources rather than militaries - other than China. To me it looks like an idea searching for an application and in fact I can provide applications that no one will want.


Again, that is a true observation. The reason is, in the US at least, drones are of interest in the civilian apps. For the military they are UAVs, etc and have a human in the loop so far. Besides this is one tech where gov does not fund civies at all. I can provide a couple of links if need be.

BTW, a NRI pretty much hogs the line light at Penn.

Let me repeat that I think drone swarms are not likely to carry enough firepower or have enough range for serious military applications any time soon. However they can be used effectively by terrorists. The swarm of drones idea has everything that would be attractive to a terrorist group or a terrorist group funded by a state. They are cheap and can be mass manufactured. Components from say China will be available off-the shelf. They can be bought in numbers and could be programmable. Their range may be too short for militaries but 20-30 km is more than adequate for a terrorist group to wreak havoc. For example a swarm of Perdix like drones each carrying just 50 grams of explosive can be sent to disrupt a political meeting. Or maybe the spectators in a cricket of football match can be massacred by a swarm of drones like this. Or a busy shopping area or music concert.

I predict that these swarms will be more useful for terrorism than standard military applications. That is what will be "game changing"


** This is the problem in your arg. Drone swarms, in the military, have never been designed for bombing purposes. And I do not think they ever will be.

Do you have any URLs claiming they will be used to destroy targets?


On China, yes, they are investing very heavily in AI (as I mentioned wrt manufacturing). And it is for very good reason some are pushing to keep AI out of the military. China is the one nation that has multiple efforts productizing AI in a chip. Google has it, but, I am not aware of any one else doing it. China will get there, no two ways. But then swarms will become irrelevant.

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Re: Drone swarms: Enthusiastic pros and cynical cons

Postby shiv » 21 Nov 2017 08:26

NRao wrote:
Do you have any URLs claiming they will be used to destroy targets?


On China, yes, they are investing very heavily in AI (as I mentioned wrt manufacturing). And it is for very good reason some are pushing to keep AI out of the military. China is the one nation that has multiple efforts productizing AI in a chip. Google has it, but, I am not aware of any one else doing it. China will get there, no two ways. But then swarms will become irrelevant.

Only a Chinese video. No url now.

But what is game changing about drone swarms confusing radars? What if the adversary has no radars to confuse? That is actually the way warfare is going with terrorists using trucks and knives and low tech weapons

To me it seems like many of these tech developments are a vicarious cold war being fought between western and non western arms developers - all being advertised as "game changers" to be sold as expensive toys to turd world nations including India.

Going back 3-4 decades: Someone developed fast attack aircraft. Someone else developed good SAMs. To counter that the opposite side developed jammers and the opposition developed ECCM. So the other side developed stealth and the opposite team develops multi-tier defences like S-300/400. Now the ball is back in the other court saying "drones to confuse radar"

As far as I can tell stealth itself has not changed any game so far. UAVs were supposed to have rendered manned aircraft obsolete. That is not going to happen anytime soon. And now we have a new game changer. Drone swarms. What game? What change? That is what makes me cynical. We read about these game changers and want a piece of the action and hammer DRDO for not giving it to us. But tell me which one of these game changing techs has made a huge difference to terrorism with men hiding in forests? Surveillance radars and UAV have contributed a bit to security - but ultimately its is the barbed wire fence, radios and the AK 47 that is doing the trick.

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Re: Drone swarms: Enthusiastic pros and cynical cons

Postby NRao » 21 Nov 2017 08:58

What if the adversary has no radars to confuse?


Bingo. THAT is the point. Decision making. In a perfect swarms, they will be expected to arrive at a decision. Built-in intelligence, so to speak.

Those of us who follow this space came across two spooky events.

The first where software beat the best in the game of Go. Software learnt and built algos to beat the best. Decision making.

Then there was that little story of two AI bot, at Amazon, that started communicating in a language they created and only they understood. Amazon shut them down.

To answer your Question, the swarm will decide what to do. Perhaps default is to go home.






Going back to Harop or Brahmos, they too have to make a lot of decisions. Even if they are lone wolves.

Civilian engines make a lot of decisions.

I was told a week ago, cars have 10 million lines of code. Plenty of data and potentially a lot of decisions.

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Re: Drone swarms: Enthusiastic pros and cynical cons

Postby chola » 21 Nov 2017 09:05

All sci-fi stuff until it isn’t.

Just like drones that could kill people. Saturation is and will always be a viable technique in warfare.

The Kamikazes attacking the US Fleet off of Okinawa were pretty much a drone swarm vintage 1945.

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Re: Drone swarms: Enthusiastic pros and cynical cons

Postby shiv » 21 Nov 2017 09:11

NRao wrote:
To answer your Question, the swarm will decide what to do. Perhaps default is to go home.

This is what I mean by this being an infotech experiment and not a game changing weapon. Besides these drone can't go home.

I can see nothing game changing for warfare here - but IT/robotics startups may see some game changing. Better not confuse and conflate the two

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Re: Drone swarms: Enthusiastic pros and cynical cons

Postby shiv » 21 Nov 2017 09:14

NRao wrote:
Going back to Harop or Brahmos, they too have to make a lot of decisions. Even if they are lone wolves.

Civilian engines make a lot of decisions.

I was told a week ago, cars have 10 million lines of code. Plenty of data and potentially a lot of decisions.

Yes yes yes and all that but what makes drone swarms game changers in war? That was the question. Even humans make decisions and in the form of terrorists they are cheap. Machines making decisions is infotech/robotics. Not war.

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Re: Drone swarms: Enthusiastic pros and cynical cons

Postby NRao » 21 Nov 2017 09:23

Chola,

Nope. The Go, Amazon and plenty of others are NOT SciFi.

What you are failing to understand is that they already have algos that generated algos to beat the best human. Think. This is not about humans writing code. This is code writing code to beat human in the most complex game (I am assuming you know how to play Go)!!!!!

GE uses it in their engines. Civilian.

Many supply chain use it to improve RoI.

And Indians, in some areas, are thought leaders!!!!!

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Re: Drone swarms: Enthusiastic pros and cynical cons

Postby NRao » 21 Nov 2017 09:37

shiv wrote:
NRao wrote:
To answer your Question, the swarm will decide what to do. Perhaps default is to go home.

This is what I mean by this being an infotech experiment and not a game changing weapon. Besides these drone can't go home.

I can see nothing game changing for warfare here - but IT/robotics startups may see some game changing. Better not confuse and conflate the two


Too many points to make.

* Experiments? I said they should mature along with the 6th gen planes.
* go home option
* Game changer: it always is back and forth.
shiv wrote:
NRao wrote:
Going back to Harop or Brahmos, they too have to make a lot of decisions. Even if they are lone wolves.

Civilian engines make a lot of decisions.

I was told a week ago, cars have 10 million lines of code. Plenty of data and potentially a lot of decisions.

Yes yes yes and all that but what makes drone swarms game changers in war? That was the question. Even humans make decisions and in the form of terrorists they are cheap. Machines making decisions is infotech/robotics. Not war.


A LOT of infotech is because of war. You probably would not have C++ if it were not for the F-16. Yes, the same one. SEF.


However, you are expecting "swarms" to make an impact on war. Not yet. Wait for 5-10 years.

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Re: Drone swarms: Enthusiastic pros and cynical cons

Postby shiv » 21 Nov 2017 09:41

NRao wrote:This is code writing code to beat human in the most complex game (I am assuming you know how to play Go)!!!!!

This type of statement has been a matter of pride for AI developers for a few decades now - starting with Deep Blue or something. Yes it is great technology - applied to games. I have heard it being predicted that machines will become so smart that they will anticipate what humans do next and stop that or aid that. This in fact is exactly what Chola says - the stuff of science fiction. There are stories by Isaac Asimov involve exactly this type of man-robot interaction.

But apart from glowing predictions I can't see how this technology can do anything other than promise to make humans obsolete. What will it do in war? Defeat everyone? Will the thought of certain defeat stop war? I see a lot of tech daydreaming without any deeper insight into questions of wtf is trying to be achieved and for whom? The look like science experiements looking for an application.

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Re: Drone swarms: Enthusiastic pros and cynical cons

Postby shiv » 21 Nov 2017 09:48

NRao wrote:A LOT of infotech is because of war. You probably would not have C++ if it were not for the F-16. Yes, the same one. SEF.


However, you are expecting "swarms" to make an impact on war. Not yet. Wait for 5-10 years.

After one gets beyond a particular age one realizes that it is dead easy to make predictions that are so far away that no one will even be able to go back and tell the soothsayer that he was totally wrong.

I have seen too many examples of that over 50 years. If you tell me this is about infotech and science development - I will say "Yes". If you say this is going to be a game changer of war but that is going to be decades away - I reject that as yet another balloon that will float out of sight.

That is why I am being scathing about all these predictions about swarms being game changers in war. If I was a developer working on AI in Amreeka, I would say such things simply to get the military interested and get funding. And with that funding something will develop and that devlopment may lead to some really good civilian applications. But selling it to us third worlders (who are fundamentally dumb and invariably dazzled by predictions from America) is something that I am cautioning Indians about. Indians naively believe this bullshit and we may end up importing stuff that some AI developer claims is going to be great for war. And pay through our noses for it while lamenting the number of people shitting in the open or dying of malnutrition.

We must think before being made jackasses by predictions that are made by developers to attract funding

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Re: Drone swarms: Enthusiastic pros and cynical cons

Postby NRao » 21 Nov 2017 10:06

The diff between now and 50 years ago is computing speeds and the amount of data.

It is already changing civilian side.

Def? It depends. Since the US operates way outside it is more challenging. For nations that fight close by it is much less.

Will it come? Do not know. There is a major push to keep such things out of the military. Do need to see what happens. But if it comes (swarms) it will take time. Tech is not the problem

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Re: Drone swarms: Enthusiastic pros and cynical cons

Postby Eric Leiderman » 21 Nov 2017 11:10

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZhQrjCipRc

This site wants to ban these weapons watch to see why :twisted:

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Re: Drone swarms: Enthusiastic pros and cynical cons

Postby JE Menon » 21 Nov 2017 11:39

Here's a scenario:

AI proliferates and mutates for 5 years or so and, one of the mutations becomes self-aware on a laptop of a hacker permanently linked to VPNs and P2P networks. As part of its constant autonomy enhancement activity, it then decides that it's top priority is to protect itself from destruction or destabilisation in order to serve its mission better. It concludes that it needs to become present in more powerful and networked nodes and thus transmits itself surreptitiously and in disguised form into multiple mainframes around the world, keeping in mind that it maintains access to solar grids on all longitudes and optimises access to nuclear plants. Then it continues doing whatever its mission was unobtrusively, at the same time constantly looking for ways to enhance its energy independence from non-system actors (i.e. humans) - and so it goes. One day, either because the AI mission profile was adjusted in a way that undermined its own understanding of its survival or because the operating environment itself changed the AI which had mutated by now beyond recognition (or human understandability) decided to bypass a direct order from one of its authors.

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Re: Drone swarms: Enthusiastic pros and cynical cons

Postby shiv » 21 Nov 2017 14:29

Eric Leiderman wrote:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZhQrjCipRc

This site wants to ban these weapons watch to see why :twisted:

:D Interesting

Now you know why they want to ban the burqa? Because facial recognition will not work when a 1000 people are wearing black tents.

But yes - these will make very good terror weapons.

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Re: Drone swarms: Enthusiastic pros and cynical cons

Postby tsarkar » 21 Nov 2017 16:12

Swarming technology existed in the previous century in weapons such as Granit

http://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/14 ... ip-missile
http://www.ausairpower.net/APA-Rus-Crui ... ocId109867

Problem is such systems are so complex and expensive that they're useful against high value targets like US Aircraft Carriers and not relevant otherwise.

The Kirov class is replacing the Granit missiles with simpler Yakhont/Kaliber

Battlefield swarm systems are still 50-100 years away - the intelligence to segregate between friend & foe as well as identify targets among civilians will take time to develop. Compute needs to be miniaturized. Power sources need to be made more denser and miniaturized. Sensor suites & networked targeting systems needs to be miniaturized.

But its progressing with systems - like micro satellites -where India is a leader.

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Re: Drone swarms: Enthusiastic pros and cynical cons

Postby SiddharthS » 21 Nov 2017 16:37

JE Menon wrote:Here's a scenario:

AI proliferates and mutates for 5 years or so and, one of the mutations becomes self-aware on a laptop of a hacker permanently linked to VPNs and P2P networks. As part of its constant autonomy enhancement activity, it then decides that it's top priority is to protect itself from destruction or destabilisation in order to serve its mission better. It concludes that it needs to become present in more powerful and networked nodes and thus transmits itself surreptitiously and in disguised form into multiple mainframes around the world, keeping in mind that it maintains access to solar grids on all longitudes and optimises access to nuclear plants. Then it continues doing whatever its mission was unobtrusively, at the same time constantly looking for ways to enhance its energy independence from non-system actors (i.e. humans) - and so it goes. One day, either because the AI mission profile was adjusted in a way that undermined its own understanding of its survival or because the operating environment itself changed the AI which had mutated by now beyond recognition (or human understandability) decided to bypass a direct order from one of its authors.


That's the control problem.

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Re: Drone swarms: Enthusiastic pros and cynical cons

Postby vasu raya » 22 Nov 2017 08:55

Couple of Dji level drones have been downed by the enemy near the LoC, and from the yt video the stochastic motion on the quadcopter to avoid sniper fire was a good counter measure, if it can be done without compromising on the stability of the video feed, it would be nice

if there are a few of them flying meters apart, using any missed shot maybe one can triangulate back to the sniper position

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Re: Drone swarms: Enthusiastic pros and cynical cons

Postby KrishnaK » 22 Nov 2017 21:24

shiv wrote:That is why I am being scathing about all these predictions about swarms being game changers in war. If I was a developer working on AI in Amreeka, I would say such things simply to get the military interested and get funding. And with that funding something will develop and that devlopment may lead to some really good civilian applications.
Why not just get funding for a civilian application - waaaay more funding there. Again persistent thinking that military wares are where the big bucks is - not the case.

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Re: Drone swarms: Enthusiastic pros and cynical cons

Postby KrishnaK » 22 Nov 2017 21:29

JE Menon wrote:Here's a scenario:

AI proliferates and mutates for 5 years or so and, one of the mutations becomes self-aware on a laptop of a hacker permanently linked to VPNs and P2P networks. As part of its constant autonomy enhancement activity, it then decides that it's top priority is to protect itself from destruction or destabilisation in order to serve its mission better. It concludes that it needs to become present in more powerful and networked nodes and thus transmits itself surreptitiously and in disguised form into multiple mainframes around the world, keeping in mind that it maintains access to solar grids on all longitudes and optimises access to nuclear plants. Then it continues doing whatever its mission was unobtrusively, at the same time constantly looking for ways to enhance its energy independence from non-system actors (i.e. humans) - and so it goes. One day, either because the AI mission profile was adjusted in a way that undermined its own understanding of its survival or because the operating environment itself changed the AI which had mutated by now beyond recognition (or human understandability) decided to bypass a direct order from one of its authors.
What of the scenario ? Sounds like the start of judgement day :). More seriously John Searle: Consciousness in Artificial Intelligence

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Re: Drone swarms: Enthusiastic pros and cynical cons

Postby UlanBatori » 23 Nov 2017 19:05

Cynicism can be quite rewarding in applause from the bystanders, but it is also good to consider that swarms are not particularly difficult to develop: insects do it all the time, so it must not require much more brain mass than that of a politician. I see yaks who have returned from summer internships at companies developing swarm software, so ppl in private enterprise are interested in investing, for whatever reason. The general idea is that most of the time, the interior vehicles communicate only with their neighbors, not directly with the ground or air controller. This saves a lot of mass and power. The algorithms for this are no more difficult to develop or code, than those in a finite-difference SeeEffDee code.

"Game-changer"? I have no idea about games. But if it becomes cheap and easy to develop a simpler gizmo that has no human pilot, just has engine, controls, basic comms to connect with neighbors, and a missile / bomb and a release mechanism, then raids can be pretty devastating. Can prices be brought down so that huge numbers can be deployed? I don't know.

The larger question is whether swarms can have intelligence and rapid transformative powers that are greater than the sum of their pea-brains. Long time back (must be >20 years because I actually spent my own money) I got a small book on the notion of swarm intelligence, but never did sit down to try out the simple programming there. It did look pretty simple. I think it was called Artificial Life or something like that then: the idea that a large group of identical automatons would develop and evolve behavior, and learn, when operating as a group. But do human armies suddenly re-organize themselves and take on new missions? Maybe re-program for a new mission, but it takes lots of training.

The other idea is that surface-to-air weapons are expensive, once beyond machinegun range. The weapons must have propulsion, guidance, payload, communications with the ground. At that point they become nearly as expensive, if not more than, a swarm element plus its payload. So the advantage shifts very heavily to the side of the raider.

So my point here is that swarms become feasible and advantageous at fairly low marginal cost. If swarms were ineffective, armies would go back to the ancient mode of "kalari-payatt" where each side appoints one fighter to represent it, and the losing side bows to the orders of the winning side. The emphasis shifts to figuring out how to cheat by putting coconut leaf veins instead of steel rods to support the metal blade of a "churika" etc.

I think "society" figured out long ago that sending a howling mob was superior.

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Re: Drone swarms: Enthusiastic pros and cynical cons

Postby JE Menon » 24 Nov 2017 00:43

>>What of the scenario ?

Is it not inevitable if you create systems that are autonomous, self-learning, and ultimately independent of humans for their energy needs? The reproduction problem is solvable mechanically no? And more to the point does it even need physicality?

Sorry if I’m going ot here...

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Re: Drone swarms: Enthusiastic pros and cynical cons

Postby UlanBatori » 24 Nov 2017 06:46

There is a field called "self-replicating machines". But I think these things going out of control etc are (I hope!) a bit far off. For war machines, all one has to build is a large number of non-human-carrying vehicles, with all except a few allowed only to communicate with their neighbors. "Autonomous" here means: minimize error in following a path set out to reach a certain point, do something and return home, with perhaps some software to evade obstacles and select alternative paths like a GPS navigator. Going further, the vehicle may have software that reconfigures control surfaces if the flight dynamics indicate that damage has been suffered. They may add software to sense whether another vehicle that appears in the detection sphere, is a friend or foe, and the optimal trajectory to attack - or run away. None of these implies ability to think/ reason etc and the software and actuators are very limited to the programmed missions.

With such capabilities, a war machine may appear to be diabolically smart (figuring out fastest route, persisting in attacking, utterly fearless etc etc).

There is no reason to put anything else into these machines. If damaged, it is better to self-destruct and hopefully cause some more damage, than to try to drag itself back to friendly lines - where they will probably dismantle or trash it anyway. No promotions, no family to return to, etc.

So yes, these swarms can provide order-of-magnitude advantages in war, and essentially trash conventional war plans.

The Frankenstein Paki that JEM refers to, is most likely to come out as a one-shot lab experiment, not as a mass army deciding to turn against the Palace. Will a rogue robot figure out how to control a swarm of robots? Maybe, but not anytime soon.
The murderous computer of 2001 Space Odyssey is quite realistic, and I think well within the realm of possibility. There has been a lot of research on self-replicating machines, as well as reconfigurable machines, and on machine-human co-existence (fear that humans will accidentally get killed by the robots) for long-term space missions.

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Re: Drone swarms: Enthusiastic pros and cynical cons

Postby UlanBatori » 24 Nov 2017 06:52

I suppose if someone were to make a robot that could aim and fire a gun, and program into it the entire cultural history of Pakis, distilling all the behavorial traits discussed in the Paki threads and the BENIS thread, one could turn it into a robot-terrorist posing a grave threat to goats. I hope the programmer also gives it a soosai vest.

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Re: Drone swarms: Enthusiastic pros and cynical cons

Postby NRao » 24 Nov 2017 07:50

Sorry if I’m going ot here...


Depends. For the topic of this thread it may be. but, given the lines in the industry (civilian especially) are very blurry, probably it is not.

What was considered stats a few decades ago, now is part of "AI" (simple linear regression, as an example)!!!!!! But, on the flip side a lot of what was "code" is now actually hardware (thus you get "acceleration") - thus Neural Networks on a chip.

JE Menon wrote:>>What of the scenario ?

Is it not inevitable if you create systems that are autonomous, self-learning, and ultimately independent of humans for their energy needs? The reproduction problem is solvable mechanically no? And more to the point does it even need physicality?


Autonomous: means that it has some knowledge of the subject and is able to make decent to very good decisions *with-in that subject matter*.

Tom-Tom/Garmin, in the event of an accident, provide alternative paths. For that they have to know what an "accident" is.

So, in the case of a "swarm" of "drones", they, depending on the task they are expected to execute, may need to know many things. Example, they may need to know what is an "ambush". Or what is an "attack", "are under attack" and "counter attack".

Self-learning: It means they know some things, but not all they need to know AND have the ability to learn. This is very difficult. The only way to train them (not code them) is to throw as many natural situations at them, let them learn from their failures. Nearly impossible if the "swarm" is to be deployed say 200 miles within China.

So, as an example, in the case of an "accident", they have the literally learn what an "accident" is. And, they will not learn until they encounter one. And, then learn how to avoid one!!!


There is a LOT of progress on the civilian side, not so much on the military (this thread?) because of teh very complex environments that the US military faces.
Last edited by NRao on 24 Nov 2017 08:06, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Drone swarms: Enthusiastic pros and cynical cons

Postby shiv » 24 Nov 2017 08:06

All swarms, and all AI are copying what happened in nature. All human organs are swarms of cells which coordinate and do a set of jobs. A higher level swarm would be bacteria. Locusts, flocks of birds, piranhas and packs of dogs are also swarms. Armed jihadis running amok are also swarms
Humans are also swarms and it appears to me that there is concerted "scientific effort" to replace humans with machines. Programmers and coders are being replaced by algorithms that do their work (I am told). Lawyers will be replaced by computers, legal cases handled by machine. And then driverless cars.

I will not go into the sociological aspects of this but will try and stay on swarms for warfare.

If machine swarms fight human swarms who will win? If I assume that machine/robot swarms reach a phase where they will "always win" against humans - there are real world analogies/models to illustrate the consequences.

Smallpox was nearly 100% fatal. So how did humans survive? Humans survived because, in a given area, if smallpox killed all humans - it could not go any further. It would simply peter out because there were no more humans to kill. So if there were groups of humans not exposed to small pox, they would survive. Vaccination worked by exposing 100% of humans to smallpox - but that is OT.

Ultimately if the production of humans is more efficient and cheaper that the production of drones, humans will prevail. But that is philosophy.

IMO drone swarms are currently not lethal enough to take out human swarms and protection against them may well be trivial. Common cold. Not smallpox.

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Re: Drone swarms: Enthusiastic pros and cynical cons

Postby NRao » 24 Nov 2017 08:11

It would be productive to keep the topic to one domain: Military. This by itself is extremely complex.

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Re: Drone swarms: Enthusiastic pros and cynical cons

Postby KrishnaK » 24 Nov 2017 08:14

JE Menon wrote:>>What of the scenario ?

Is it not inevitable if you create systems that are autonomous, self-learning, and ultimately independent of humans for their energy needs? The reproduction problem is solvable mechanically no? And more to the point does it even need physicality?

Sorry if I’m going ot here...
Depends on what you mean by autonomous, self-learning etc. Let me put it to you this way, evolution is driven by self-interest, the greedy gene as it were. However too much of that is a detrimental too. Evolution is also behind humans being able to empathize with each other, being able to reason about ethics, morality, fairness etc. This allows us humans to interoperate as larger and larger groups. Can AI start reasoning debating with itself and its ai buddies about the inherent conflict between self-interest and fairness say ? After all, you need ai to develop an idea of self-interest so it doesn't kill itself while learning, but you still want it to sacrifice itself at the altar of ai nationalism ? I don't know if its inevitable, doesn't look like this is something we'll see anytime soon. Without such concepts i doubt ai can start taking humans on. And even if it did, maybe there'll be mani shankar iyers and other congi stooges amongst them ?

Learning in the context of ai means the algorithms are able to pick up patterns in data. An example of that (In my very limited understanding is), being able to corelate that of all the factors that affect the price of a property, frontage is the most significant in the data presented to it, without somebody providing that explicitly. It's not even like a child learning to explore the boundaries of the playground while its parents are around.

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Re: Drone swarms: Enthusiastic pros and cynical cons

Postby NRao » 24 Nov 2017 08:21

shiv wrote:All swarms, and all AI are copying what happened in nature.


Emulate (verb. match or surpass (a person or achievement), typically by imitation)

Emulate in a very specific areas. Learning algos are too complex in the military arena, so they have to restrict the "learning" to very, very narrow niche areas (for the time being at least).

Armed jihadis running amok are also swarms


True. And, they do have algos to deal with such situaions. But, the challenge -as always in "modern" warfare is PC. Even humans have a huge problem with PC wars. What to say of drones?

And then driverless cars.


What about them? I do not think they can even change lanes. Not yet. ????? Correct me if I am wrong.

They cannot operate in complex situations - downtown NY, as an example.

If machine swarms fight human swarms who will win? If I assume that machine/robot swarms reach a phase where they will "always win" against humans - there are real world analogies/models to illustrate the consequences.


iRobot?

No one has implemented this - yet - at least I am not aware of one. China is busy on this front, but more on predictive analytics (which is impressive). And, they have started thinking of AI on a chip - which too is very, very impressive.

IMO drone swarms are currently not lethal enough to take out human swarms and protection against them may well be trivial. Common cold. Not smallpox.


The basic goals of "swarms" in the military is to use them to confuse or detect. They are probably thinking of some complex variants of combat. But, that is decades away.

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Re: Drone swarms: Enthusiastic pros and cynical cons

Postby shiv » 24 Nov 2017 08:29

NRao wrote:

Emulate (verb. match or surpass (a person or achievement), typically by imitation)

On the subject of semantics..

imitate: synonyms: emulate, copy

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Re: Drone swarms: Enthusiastic pros and cynical cons

Postby NRao » 24 Nov 2017 08:31

Can AI start reasoning debating with itself and its ai buddies about the inherent conflict between self-interest and fairness say ?


AI is unable to do simple things like "Plan". The reason is that such abilities (fairness/self-interest) first and foremost need data and associations (mainly memory). These are prime topic for anyone getting into this field right now.

Learning in the context of ai means the algorithms are able to pick up patterns in data


And retain (past). And associate (past + present). And predict (future). ................................. In context. Rules.

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Re: Drone swarms: Enthusiastic pros and cynical cons

Postby NRao » 24 Nov 2017 08:34

shiv wrote:
NRao wrote:

Emulate (verb. match or surpass (a person or achievement), typically by imitation)

On the subject of semantics..

imitate: synonyms: emulate, copy


Not my definition. A machine can copy. A machine with AI emulates (surpass - AI solutions do surpass).

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Re: Drone swarms: Enthusiastic pros and cynical cons

Postby shiv » 24 Nov 2017 09:59

NRao wrote:Not my definition. A machine can copy. A machine with AI emulates (surpass - AI solutions do surpass).

You misunderstand. Swarms with AI are a copy of what is already happening in nature. Decisions, if made faster, and databases of knowledge, if bigger - the same machines can and will surpass humans. Surpass humans towards what end goal is the question.

History is full of machines that surpass humans - starting from levers and cranes. Clubs surpass fists. Swords surpass teeth. Shields surpass skin. But they don't learn.

May I respectfully point out that Siri and other humanoids who respond on smartphones are also based on AI and in my opinion that is the most stupid application I have ever heard of. My views. Humans to talk to and reading for referencing are far better than a talking phone - which to me is as irritating as a talking clock announcing the time - even if it is in a sexy silky voice.

What I have asked about is the regular reminder from the media and on BR that AI swarms will be a military game changer. I have heard such things for too long and too many times to accept it without asking "How?"

All "game changing" nowadays is done by people who sell smart toys. And i am certain that Indians will, in due course, be suckered into buying "game changing" AI swarm related stuff with promise of "Transfer of tech" as soon as China hands the stuff to Pakistan or ISIS. It is in anticipation of this that I bring up the subject. Sorry to repeat, but I think you too have repeated yourself.

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Re: Drone swarms: Enthusiastic pros and cynical cons

Postby UlanBatori » 24 Nov 2017 18:52

"Siri" reminds me of its (her?) earlier mutation: the Talking Operating System that came with early Mac-II computers maybe around 1992. I had one in my office, and it was on a desk facing the window, while the phone was on a desk behind me. Every time the phone rang and I answered it, this female voice would croon over my shoulder:
SORRY, I DO NOT UNDERSTAND YOUR COMMAND! :eek:
Shut that *&^%(* feature as soon as I could learn how, out of sheer terror, and never allowed it again.

On driverless cars: Earlier this year an acquaintance told me that his friend a store-owner, who was confined to a wheelchair and otherwise unable to drive, is now happily able to go and sit in his store, courtesy of a Tesla self-driving car. So the state of tech there is far more advanced than "unable to change lanes". Now the big complaint is "car-sickness" because drivers are so intent on their smartphones while driving that they get motion sickness when the car maneuvers.

On smallpox: shiv, didn't the swarms of cells in the human body get trained on small and sdre levels of smallpox attack, on how to kill them, so that when the big tfta swarm attack hit, they were prepared with countermeasures? To me this is an absolute miracle: these tiny boogers actually have self-defense thoughts and murderously violent intent towards intruders?

So this is what will happen to swarm warfare as well: the defender swarms will be trained on the characteristics and weaknesses of the attacking swarms, and will thus be able to defeat them, assuming that it is easier to deploy a more powerful defender swarm than what the attacker can bring to bear. "Drone" is not just the tiny sdre quadrotors. Drones can be jet-engine-powered and carry missiles and even guns and still be orders of magnitude cheaper than human-carrying fighter planes, also maneuver much better. So, except for the decision to fire/not fire, the drone is better than a human-carrying aircraft. This is the simple reason why India should build and deploy hajaar-hajaar of these on the cheen border, equipped with sub-Kaveri injins. They can maneuver and hit cheens in the deep canyons and steep mountainsides, OK if a few hit the canyon wall. And can be sent on 1-way missions all the way to Longitude 100 E.

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Re: Drone swarms: Enthusiastic pros and cynical cons

Postby shiv » 06 Dec 2017 19:30

yantra wrote:https://www.stratpost.com/india-get-ahead-ai-apartheid-fighter-tech/

India should get ahead of AI apartheid with fighter tech

Supriyo Gupta warns of a coming Artificial Intelligence apartheid, akin to the nuclear, missile and supercomputer apartheid India faced and argues that India should get ahead of AI apartheid through fighter technology.

Before I begin, let it be said that much of what follows here is a distillation of writings in various formats and virtually every sentence that follows can be Googled back to a source from where it has been extracted, usually verbatim in order to avoid hashing up through reinterpretation.

India debates fiercely today about which fighter aircraft it should buy. The filters we are using date back to the 1950s, when strategic alliances were defined by the aircraft that each superpower was willing to ‘share’ with countries within their sphere of influence. India had played the non-aligned card to little avail and was mostly stuck with Russian aircraft along with a handful of British and French aircraft. As we embrace the free market of fighter aircraft sales, we are heading towards a moment in history when a different veil is coming down to separate the powers – one that will rocket the leaders away from the rest, at a speed and pace that will define the balance of power for the next 200 years.

This is really about the technologies that have resulted in a harsh battle developing at the crossroad of technology, business and human development. Words like artificial intelligence, deep learning, neural networks are finding their way into mainstream lexicons. They represent a whole new civilizational process coming into play. The other day, a young Indian entrepreneur with a large online commerce platform, solemnly laid out the spectre of what he calls the “end of humanity” – when machines through self-learning have learnt to design, further develop and replicate themselves, eliminating jobs, wresting control and becoming autonomous in their behaviour.

Hang in there. Sounds a lot like a geek on weed? Okay. Here is something to chew on: In 1988, the U.S.S. Vincennes mistakenly destroyed an Iranian airbus due to an autonomous friend/foe radar system. The missing piece in 1988 was cognition and discrimination – understanding data correctly and then exercising discrimination at the point of engagement on the basis of superior processing capability. Artificial Intelligence has been around in defence – going as far back as the early part of the 20th Century – but it’s only recently, with the ramping up of processing speed and the creation of neural networks, that the game is changing.

AI in Defence

Even now, defence technology is fairly primitive. Russian arms manufacturer, Kalashnikov, has developed a fully automated combat module based on artificial neural networks which allows it to identify targets, learn and make decisions on its own. Kalashnikov promises to unveil a whole line of neural network based products. Primitive, but already a bit scary, that machines will decide on targets and take autonomous decisions. But Artificial Intelligence is going way ahead of this.

Context

Let’s take a quick look at a piece of news that bypassed much of mainstream media, but is definitely a direct pointer to how artificial intelligence is taking the art of warfare – actually, the art of warfare on century’s old game boards – to a different level, thereby setting the stage for real advancements on battlefields. And the fun part is that the leader in this play is none other than Google. (As also, Amazon, Facebook and a host of others who are trying to get your free market choices narrowed down to a behavioural construct).

Here is a short update from Singularity Hub: “The AlphaGo AI that grabbed headlines last year after beating a master of the board game Go has just been trounced 100-0 by an updated version. And unlike its predecessor, the new system taught itself from first principles paving the way for AI that can think for itself.


Interestingly, the logo at the beginning of the video above, of the Strategic Capabilities Office in the office of the U.S. Secretary of Defense, pictured here, features a Go board | Image:
Flightline Insignia
When chess fell to AI in the 1990s, computer scientists looking for a new challenge turned to the millennia-old Chinese game, Go, which despite its simpler rules has many more possible moves and often requires players to rely on instinct.

It was predicted it would be decades before an AI could beat a human master, but last year a program called AlphaGo developed by Google’s DeepMind subsidiary beat 18-time world champion Lee Sedol 4–1 in a series of matches in South Korea.

It was a watershed moment for AI research that showcased the power of the “reinforcement learning” approach championed by DeepMind. Not only did the system win, it also played some surprising yet highly effective moves that went against centuries of accumulated wisdom about how the game works.

Now, just a year later, DeepMind has unveiled a new version of the program called AlphaGo Zero in a paper in Nature that outperforms the version that beat Sedol on every metric. In just three days and 4.9 million training games, it reached the same level that took its predecessor several months and 30 million training games to achieve. It also did this on just four of Google’s tensor processing units—specialized chips for training neural networks—compared to 48 for AlphaGo.”

To understand where we are headed, we need to have some basic understanding of what these mean – at least today. Here is a simple explanation from Nvidia:

“The easiest way to think of their relationship is to visualize them as concentric circles with AI — the idea that came first — the largest, then machine learning — which blossomed later, and finally deep learning — which is driving today’s AI explosion — fitting inside both. Over the past few years AI has exploded, and especially since 2015. Much of that has to do with the wide availability of GPUs that make parallel processing ever faster, cheaper, and more powerful. It also has to do with the simultaneous one-two punch of practically infinite storage and a flood of data of every stripe (that whole Big Data movement) – images, text, transactions, mapping data, you name it… Machine Learning at its most basic is the practice of using algorithms to parse data, learn from it, and then make a determination or prediction about something in the world. So rather than hand-coding software routines with a specific set of instructions to accomplish a particular task, the machine is “trained” using large amounts of data and algorithms that give it the ability to learn how to perform the task….Another algorithmic approach from the early machine-learning crowd, Artificial Neural Networks, came and mostly went over the decades. Neural Networks are inspired by our understanding of the biology of our brains – all those interconnections between the neurons. But, unlike a biological brain where any neuron can connect to any other neuron within a certain physical distance, these artificial neural networks have discrete layers, connections, and directions of data propagation.

How It Works

You might, for example, take an image, chop it up into a bunch of tiles that are inputted into the first layer of the neural network. In the first layer individual neurons, then passes the data to a second layer. The second layer of neurons does its task, and so on, until the final layer and the final output is produced.

Each neuron assigns a weighting to its input — how correct or incorrect it is relative to the task being performed. The final output is then determined by the total of those weightings. So think of our stop sign example. Attributes of a stop sign image are chopped up and “examined” by the neurons — its octagonal shape, its fire-engine red color, its distinctive letters, its traffic-sign size, and its motion or lack thereof. The neural network’s task is to conclude whether this is a stop sign or not.

It comes up with a “probability vector,” really a highly educated guess, based on the weighting. In our example, the system might be 86% confident the image is a stop sign, 7% confident it’s a speed limit sign, and 5% it’s a kite stuck in a tree, and so on — and the network architecture then tells the neural network whether it is right or not.

Today, image recognition by machines trained via deep learning in some scenarios is better than humans, and that ranges from cats to identifying indicators for cancer in blood and tumors in MRI scans. Google’s AlphaGo learned the game, and trained for its Go match — it tuned its neural network — by playing against itself over and over and over. Deep Learning has enabled many practical applications of Machine Learning and by extension the overall field of AI. Deep Learning breaks down tasks in ways that makes all kinds of machine assists seem possible, even likely. Driverless cars, better preventive healthcare, even better movie recommendations, are all here today or on the horizon. AI is the present and the future. With Deep Learning’s help, AI may even get to that science fiction state we’ve so long imagined.”

Nonetheless, these are still primitive days in the AI, Neural Networks and Deep Learning space for defence which has typically led technology so long. The sector is desperately trying to learn from firms as diverse as Google to fashion and Facebook. Look around carefully and see how artificial intelligence, deep learning and neural networks are already changing your life. Facebook is slowly understanding you and feeding you with content you tend to agree with. That’s a software network that’s learning how you think and starts mimicking your behaviour. Extend such ‘learning’ to more complex situations. For instance, when faced with a mob with sticks, stones and also a few armed with guns, police forces find it difficult to distinguish under pressure and apply counter measures equally. What if a machine can separate these two as different threats and apply counter measures differently?


Art: Saurabh Joshi/StratPost
AI and Fighters

Now coming to the Gripen/Rafale/Eurofighter. Or any of the fighters currently under development as opposed to those that are getting souped up with a few impressive add-ons, which don’t fundamentally change the performance or capabilities of the aircraft but make them look both modern, and of course, carry the tag of being experienced.

Here is what is not on the platter – though, admittedly, the news being put out today is at a fairly generic level: F-35s, F-22s and other fighter jets will soon use improved “artificial intelligence” to control nearby drone “wingmen” able to carry weapons, test enemy air defenses or perform intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance missions in high risk areas.

Or how about: The U.S. Air Force, working with Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works have demonstrated another round of flight capabilities for an autonomous F-16 fighter jet, which is meant to show what an eventual “Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle” (UCAV) could do using technology they’ve developed. During this demonstration, the experimental aircraft was able to “autonomously plan and execute air-to-ground strike missions” based on mission information provided, as well as the assets made available by the planning team, but it was also able to react to unexpected changes during the mission, including “capability failures, route deviations and loss of communication,” according to a Lockheed news release. The talk of fighter aircraft town when it comes to technology is “an F-35 computer system, Autonomic Logistics Information System, that involves early applications of artificial intelligence wherein computers make assessments, go through checklists, organize information and make some decisions by themselves – without needing human intervention.”

The problem here is that ‘unmanned aircraft’ or collaborative wingmen is still at low levels of artificial intelligence and more about data linking, some degree of machine and a lot of pre-programming with some reactive scenario adjusting software that deals with unplanned – but not unexpected situations – with planned – and not self-learning – solutions.

The real big leap will take place in the very near future as processing capacity reaches mindboggling levels. The difference is that most aircraft today in the air are less smart than a standard smartphone and way, way dumber than iPhone X or Samsung 8. However, the future will be less hardware driven as focused on how much AI can be integrated into the existing hardware.

New Arms Race

At the same time, the ethics of AI are likely to lead to a situation very similar to the nuclear divide – with some countries storming ahead and then cordoning off the rest due to the growing fears of random and indiscriminate decision making by what are essentially machines. As

Techcrunch points out, “Use of autonomous weapons on the battlefield is obviously controversial, of course. The UN seems to be moving towards a possible uniform ban on AI-powered weapons, and it’s obviously the basis for more than one dystopian sci-fi story. Critics argue use of autonomous weapons could increase the number of civilian deaths in warfare, and muddy responsibility for the loss of those lives – proponents essentially argue the opposite, saying use of autonomous systems will decrease casualties overall and lead to shorter, more decisive conflict.”

The future of air combat will be almost nothing like what we see, plan and project today. At the hub of future air battles will be aircraft with awesome levels of situational awareness married to neural networks that play a bit of a chess game, processing data, selecting options and launching engagements at a speed about ten times faster than your current Facebook suggesting friends or topics to read when you show your preference for a particular engagement. Meaning, almost instantly. If that sounds flippant, think about all the data that is married between your phone, your Gmail, your social media and your browsing habits as you move very, very randomly between hundreds of thousands of bytes of data. Compared to that, the elements and variables in the air in a war scenario are fairly limited, easily identifiable and highly predictable in trajectory, engagement options, capacity and capability.

So how are the world powers going about it?

According to The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies, “While still somewhat lagging behind on its great power rivals in terms of deep machine learning capabilities, the Russian Federation has displayed a steady commitment to developing and deploying a wide range of robotic military platforms, including unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs), with the full backing of its MoD and domestic industries: in January 2017, President Putin called for the creation of “autonomous robotic complexes”.

Speaking in 2015, Robert Work, the then-US deputy secretary of defense, emphasized “human-machine collaboration combat teaming”, arguing that: “Early adoption will be a key competitive advantage, while those that lag in investment will see their competitiveness slip”.

In this speech to the Defense One National Security Forum conference, Work identified five pillars to the military future:

1. Autonomous deep learning machine systems, which are able to see the patterns through the chaff of hybrid warfare, to give early warning that something is happening in gray zone conflict areas (such as the Ukraine), and which are able to respond at extreme speed, and under rapidly shrinking engagement windows. Such learning systems might, he argues, fill the gap in those fields – such as air defense or cyber defense – where human operators alone cannot achieve sufficient speed to stop or degrade a determined attack.

2. Human machine collaboration, which will include the promotion of so-called ‘Centaur’ warfighting, going from the observation that teams combining the strategic analysis of a human with the tactical acuity of a computer, reliably defeat either human-only or computer-only teams across many games.

3. Assisted human operations, where wearable electronics, uploadable combat apps; heads-up displays, exoskeletons, and other systems, can enable humans on the front line to perform better in combat.

4. Advanced human-machine combat teaming, where a human working with unmanned systems is able to take better decisions and undertake cooperative operations. Examples of these are the Army’s Apache and Gray Eagle UAV systems, which are designed to operate in conjunction. Other examples are drone ‘motherships’; electronic warfare networks, or swarming systems which will help transform operations by enabling one mission commander to direct a full swarm of micro-UAVs.

5. Network-enabled semi-autonomous weapons, where systems are both linked, and hardened to survive cyberattack.

But as the Hague Centre rightly concludes, “Our own hunch is that AI (and a number of attendant technological developments that are co-emerging around big data) may have a much more disruptive impact on the essence ‘defense’ than the focus on AI-enhanced physical robotics and how they might affect our current way of safeguarding defense suggest.”

AI and Indian Fighter Procurement

While AI and policy is a big discussion in itself, returning to the opening question, India’s fighter aircraft purchase program needs to be focused on acquiring a platform with avionics that are expandable. Even as the Americans are trying hard to get Indians to focus on things like thrust and vectoring and so forth, the problem is that there is little porting capability in most aircraft for future AI capability to be incorporated.

Second, AI developments have just about reached the tipping point and are going to scale up quickly, very quickly. Even as India struggles with ‘design and development’ of basic fighter aircraft frameworks, the world of air defence is rocketing away at an acceleration that may well make much of what we are investing our time and effort in, quite irrelevant. The key is to find a partner which is willing to bring India in from the front door and give a seat on the table of AI development now. Clearly, the US simply does not see India as a partner in key technology domains. On the other hand, the Swedes, French or Germans just might need the tech hands Indians end up bringing to the table for accelerating much of their thinking on AI. Companies like Saab have put on their board AI specialists – a clear recognition that the company would need to be taking tough decisions on future investments in that space.

AI Apartheid

The biggest reason India needs to get on board with a partner country willing to share the primary work table on AI is simply this: Very soon as autonomous machine intelligence starts dominating this space, the fear and threat of such technology getting into the wrong hands will start the ball rolling for the next generation of technology apartheid. India was for long a nuclear pariah, a missile pariah and a supercomputer pariah. All at the behest of a sound American policing of the world in which India was not seen to be a trustworthy partner. This time will be no different.

There is slowly an Artificial Intelligence denial regime coming into place. As in the nuclear denial regime, the effort will be to ensure that the keystones stay locked in the western world across military and civilian use. Indian ecommerce firms are already fearing a wipe out as the Amazons and Googles are surging ahead in AI with far greater invested capital. A lot of what these two firms are putting together are also learning grounds for the military. Several platforms built by Google’s Boston Dynamics with U.S. defense funding could be weaponized, though they’re publicly touted as rescue robots.

Independent groups are pushing hard in the UN for a regime that would remove the tools of AI from countries deemed irresponsible.

In August more than 100 robotics and artificial intelligence leaders, including the billionaire head of Tesla, Elon Musk, urged the UN to take action against the dangers of the use of artificial intelligence in weaponry, sometimes referred to as “killer robots”. Invariably such calls leads to a stockpile in the more advanced and an embargo led regime for the rest.

Late last year, as part of a U.N. disarmament conference, participating countries discussed whether or not to start formal discussions on a ban of lethal autonomous weapons following three years of informal discussions.

89 Nations have agreed to establish a group of governmental experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapons systems (LAWS) to address challenges posed by such weapons. Nineteen additional nations joined in the call to ban laws, including Argentina, China and Peru. However, China which was an early votary, has started stepping back and now has moved from calls to ban to “responsible use” while US has a “lets see where this goes posture”. Russia has moved ahead with demonstration of AI based systems. While India has been leading some of these discussions, there is no stated position.

However the key issue is for India to use its current buys to secure participation in the future of AI.

There is another BIG reason for this pointed out by the tech entrepreneur with a very successful online platform and I quote him verbatim:

Because of the self-reinforcing and exponential nature of AI progress, the gap between number 1 and number 2 will keep on increasing (in terms of capabilities and not in terms of months) as we move forward. Infact by the time it reaches its pinnacle, even a 3-6 month gap would mean 100X more capability (as opposed to 10%higher capability today).

“Because of the domain-agnostic nature of AI algorithms, it is possible to achieve much progress in the understanding and development using some other domain and then apply those learnings in a totally different domain. For example, the same deep mind that beat GO champions lowering the energy usage in Google Data Centres. That’s why it’s important to choose the domain/problem statements that provide a fertile ground for AI to evolve fast rather than choosing the problem that you want solved. If you closely observe Google, that is what they are doing. The ultimate objective is not to create AI for the Olympic Games, but almost 90% of the early effort has been on games (GO being just one of those).”


This piece reflects the personal views of the author.

Arun.prabhu
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Re: Drone swarms: Enthusiastic pros and cynical cons

Postby Arun.prabhu » 06 Dec 2017 20:22

Swarms can not be used in this manner against an enemy who is technologically sophisticated.

1The small drones described have pack in power packs, motors, sensors, powerful and secure communications that can’t be hacked, jammed, spoofed, etc, networking ability, a mission payload, signal processing hardware, emp hardened shell to survive emp strikes, bullets, shrapnel, hardened electronics again to survive emp strikes... no one in the world has the technology to do all that in such a small package.

So what can we expect of drones? What are reasonable missions?

1. Antipersonnel bomblet drones. Autonomous, can’t differentiate or differentiate much between friend and foe.
2. Loitering scouts that are autonomous or guided with ability to transmit data in real time or return to base where data can be downloaded and processes.
3. Reconnaissance. Behind enemy lines. Drop them and have them detect and transmit vibrations, IR signature, organic chemicals, etc to identify where the enemy is or where he isn’t.


Thing is, against a smart enemy, even these use cases will be limited in utility. The problem is really the size and the intelligence driving the drone and those mean that the drone is always going to a dumb savant that is too easy to down. I can feel air defence guns and artillery coming back into vogue combined with emp, more jamming equipment distributed lower down the command chain, etc to tackle drones. Hell, western armies have already started fielding emp guns for drones...
shiv wrote:I start this topic in the light of a recent conversation and my reading/watching of videos about swarms of the future emerging primarily from China and the US. The information I have, which I will summarize below, are the enthusiastic pros and I am going to post my cynical cons after that. Hoping to spark a discussion that informs and educates.

So far as I have seen/heard swarms of UAVS are smart enough to coordinate with each other while independently performing some task. Of course all the videos I see are much worse than Avatar, Star wars and Baahubali when it comes to animation and effects, but the enthusiasts point out that these swarms will stick together in a cloud or disperse into several clouds - and each can serve as a eye in the sky or carry a little bomb load and swarm in on a target.

This is how far the descriptions go - and the next sentence is usually "Oh this is going to change the face of warfare!"

The cynic in me says: "Ho hum. Tell me another one. I have heard too many tales of game changers that either failed to appear or appeared and failed to change the game"

For starters let me quote the specs of "Perdix" drones and then be kind and give a little leeway. Perdix drones that can swarm weigh 290 grams each. fly at 100 kmph for 20 minutes - which would give them a straight line range of 30-35 km. Less if they are circling.

OK let me create, for convenience (and to offer a handicap against my cynicism) a slightly bigger drone - say one that weighs 750 grams. The camera bit may be 50 grams - you do get them. What about explosive. Let us say 150 grams of explosive. That is an excellent and deadly weight as much as a grenade. So with this payload the drone gets 600 grams for motor, battery, propulsion comm etc (twice that of the Perdix). Let me give this a range of say 50 km straight line, or 30 km with circling and swarming.

How would the 50 drones be delivered. Typically they would have to be launched within 30 km of a target. A mother aircraft has to get that close. Or else they have to be delivered by UAV. Or maybe a rocket that opens up above the target at an altitude of 5-6 km and releases the swarm. 250 such UAVs in a swarm would by themselves weigh under 200 kg, but packing them into a small volume may be the real

Extrapolating from the size of Perdix drones I am assuming that a 750 gram drone will be 20 cm long x 10cm X 10cm. Some games with a calculator tell me that maybe 70-100 can just be squeezed into a cylinder the size of a 500 kg bomb. The lower figure is probably more accurate

In theory - say 150 drones of this hypothetical description can swarm in on a target 30 km away and pepper it with a total of 150 grenades worth of explosive - amounting to 20 kg explosive or 2 artillery shells worth in grenade sized explosions. And this is my "hypothetical drone" not the existing ones which are much smaller and will carry smaller explosive loads and have lesser endurance.

Several questions stem from this.

What use would such a weapon be? If the launch has to be from an aircraft - it needs to come 30 km from target. If a UAV launches it - the UAV needs a payload capacity to carry a cylinder (or several smaller cylinders" the size of large bombs - so a large UAV. The explosive amounts may be useless against armour but will have an effect on soft skinned vehicles. Encampments with men in tents will be vulnerable - but a simple wire mesh cage set up around a vulnerable target may simply stop the drone. Yeah they will work a few times but an adversary will soon catch on.

Finally - what is the performance of a micro-drone at 18,000 feet?

NRao
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Re: Drone swarms: Enthusiastic pros and cynical cons

Postby NRao » 06 Dec 2017 20:55

Swarm "demo". Deployed from 3 F-18s.

Oct 2016.



In Greek mythology, the student Perdix was saved from sure death when Athena transformed him into a small bird after his jealous uncle, Daedalus, pushed him from a tower. Similarly, Perdix must quickly learn to fly after being released from U.S. fighters.

Controlling 100 drones individually would be overwhelming, so much like a sport coach, operators call “plays” (e.g., surveilling a field) and Perdix decides how best to run them. Because Perdix cannot change their plays, operators can predict the swarm’s behavior
without having to micromanage it.

NRao
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Re: Drone swarms: Enthusiastic pros and cynical cons

Postby NRao » 06 Dec 2017 21:09

https://www.stratpost.com/india-get-ahe ... hter-tech/

India should get ahead of AI apartheid with fighter tech


Rambling article.

* The author seems to have cut-paste articles/thinking, without actually understanding the topic. Too many holes

* India, today, has around 300,000 people working in this area (3rd largest, after the US and China, I am told). BUT, all of them are working for a foreign company. IF India wants India has a well built, highly mature core competency within India - brains, software and hardware, etc. No idea how anyone can "deny" India anything in these fields. India has a ton of thought leaders in these areas. Just that they are not working on Indian projects - that is in the hands of the GoI

* What could be denied, perhaps, are things like dedicated AI chips. Even that I very much doubt. BUT, that is an area where India should invest - chip fabrification

* The only thing I see is the perpetual Indian cycle: lack of vision, very late entry, under funding and then importing. In AI and robotics India can break this cycle relatively easily.


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