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US Pentagon is testing whether AI can plan response to an all-out war

The United States military has begun tests to see if generative AI can assist when planning responses to potential global conflicts or taking on more mundane tasks like providing faster access to internal information.

On July 6, Bloomberg reported the U.S. Department of Defense and unnamed allies are, for the first time, testing five AI large language models (LLMs) in experiments run by the digital and AI office at the Pentagon.

Information about which LLMs are undergoing testing is guarded but AI startup Scale AI reportedly came forward to say its “Donovan” model is one of the five.

Air Force Colonel Matthew Strohmeyer told Bloomberg an initial test of an LLM was “highly successful […] Very fast” and the DoD is “learning that this is possible for us to do” but added it’s not “ready for primetime right now.”

One test explained by Strohmeyer saw an AI model deliver a request for information in 10 minutes, a blistering speed as requests often take days and involve multiple personnel.

The LLMs have already been given classified operational information to generate responses on real-world matters. The tests see if they could help plan a response to a potential escalation of the already tense military situation with China in the Indo-Pacific.

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While the tests are set to only run until July 26, the U.S. military has been studying AI’s potential capabilities in warfare for some time.

In May, the British government’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) hosted the U.S. and Australia for the first joint trial testing AI-enabled military drones to track and detect targets.

Dstl said the trail “achieved world firsts” such as retraining the AI-models live while in flight and AUKUS interchanging the models — which is “looking to rapidly drive these technologies into military capabilities.”

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