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IN-DEPTH: ‘It Is Skynet’: Pentagon Envisions Robot Armies in a Decade

The Pentagon’s quest for an AI-dominated battlefield is becoming a reality


By Andrew Thornebrooke


WASHINGTON—Robotic killing machines prowl the land, the skies, and the seas. They’re fully automated, seeking out and engaging with adversarial robots across every domain of war. Their human handlers are relegated to the rearguard, overseeing the action at a distance while conflicts are fought and won by machines.

Far from science fiction, this is the vision of Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley.

The United States, according to Milley, is in the throes of one of the myriad revolutions in military affairs that have spanned history.

Such revolutions have spanned from the invention of the stirrup to the adoption of the firearm to the deployment of mechanized warfare and, now, to the mass fielding of robotics and artificial intelligence (AI).

It’s a shift in the character of war, Milley said, that’s greater than any to have come before.

“Today, we are in … probably the biggest change in military history,” Milley said during a March 31 discussion with Defense One.

“We’re at a pivotal moment in history from a military standpoint. We’re at what amounts to a fundamental change in the very character of war.”…



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