Future Warfare and Swarm Drones, Bullaki Science Podcast With David Hambling

by Samuele Lilliu | 19 November 2020

David Hambling taks about the state of the art of military drones, distributed approaches in warfare, and future warfare.

Production Details

In this Bullaki Science Podcast Dr Samuele Lilliu discusses with David Hambling, a prolific journalist who’s written hundreds of articles for top news outlets, on the state of the art of military drones, distributed approaches in warfare, and how future warfare is heading towards a battle between software engineers rather than soldiers and pilots. World superpowers are pursuing an arms race to develop super swarm drones, which some have identified as weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

I probably went through some 30-40 articles authored by David before having a preliminary chat with him. To improve the sound experience, I sent him a low cost USB Tonor microphone, which I reviewed in this video.

Press Release

Back in August 2020 an AI pilot defeated a human in the AlphaDogfight Trials, a simulated air-to-air fighter jet fight. The gaming context was staged by DARPA and streamed on YouTube. DARPA is now gearing up for the next episode. This month DARPA signed contracts to five companies to develop algorithms enabling mixed teams of manned and unmanned combat aircraft to conduct aerial dogfighting autonomously, under a program called ACE (Air Combat Evolution). The program is implementing methods to predict, measure, calibrate, and increase human trust in the autonomy’s performance.

“It seems that the ultimate battleground will be between rival software engineers, not between soldiers and pilots.”, commented Dr. Samuele Lilliu in a recent podcast on Swarm Drones and the Future of Warfare with military technology expert David Hambling. “It is heading towards that situation. [In the AlphaDogFight trials we saw how] a piece of software could compete against a human pilot. This is about the third year they run it. And so before, it’s just been the different AI systems competing against each other. But this time around, they had the winner of that in a simulation flying an F-16, against a highly trained human pilot in a simulated F-16. The AI won five out of five, rather easily. There’s a few questions about that, and whether it’s an accurate simulation, and whether that tells us anything about what would happen in the real world. But it certainly looks like the AI has got to a point where it’s highly competent at dogfighting.” Commented David Hambling.

“It’s interesting that there’s actually a follow up to the Alpha Dog Fight. Because people were saying that part of the problem was that the human pilot was doing everything he’d been trained to do. Whereas the AI pilots were behaving like video gamers, and they were just using the system to its advantage. So there’s actually going to be a rematch between the AI and a human who’s the winner of a gaming competition to see whether the game is better than human pilots.”, added David.