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A US Air Force F-16 pilot is going to take on an AI adversary in a simulated dogfight, and you can watch it live


An AI algorithm and an experienced US Air Force F-16 pilot will battle in a simulated dogfight on Aug. 20.

  • A US Air Force pilot will take on an AI adversary in simulated dogfight next Thursday as part of the final competition in DARPA's AlphaDogfight Trials.
  • During the three-day competition, eight teams will compete, pitting their AI algorithms against other programs in simulated air combat to determine which will go head-to-head with a seasoned F-16 pilot.
  • To watch the event live, interested viewers must register here before the Monday deadline.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

An experienced US Air Force F-16 pilot will do battle with an artificial intelligence adversary in a simulated dogfight next week, and it will be broadcast live for registered viewers.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is holding its third and final AlphaDogfight competition from August 18 to August 20. During the event, AI algorithms from eight teams will engage in "simulated within-visual-range air combat maneuvering, colloquially known as a dogfight,"DARPA said in a recent press release.

The first day will feature competitors flying their AI algorithms against five AI adversaries developed by the John Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory. The second day will have teams competing against each other in digital space to determine which program will fight a human pilot in aerial combat on the final day of the competition.

Those interested in watching the action live must register here before the deadline Monday. The final battle will go down between 1:30 and 3:30 on Thursday.

The eight participating teams are Aurora Flight Sciences, EpiSys Science, Georgia Tech Research Institute, Heron Systems, Lockheed Martin, Perspecta Labs, PhysicsAI, and SoarTech.

DARPA is "excited to see how the AI algorithms perform against each other as well as a Weapons School-trained human," Col. Dan Javorsek, the program manager in DARPA's Strategic Technology Office, said in a statement.

Last year, DARPA noted that while AI can beat human beings in games like chess, there is no AI in existence that "can outduel a human strapped into a fighter jet in a high-speed, high-G dogfight," but the agency is trying to change that, or at least move the ball forward.

The AlphaDogfight competitions, the first and second of which were held in November and January respectively, are aimed at advancing DARPA's Air Combat Evolution (ACE) program, the focus of which is human-machine teaming.

"It's been amazing to see how far the teams have advanced AI for autonomous dogfighting in less than a year," Javorsek said recently.

Javorsek said last year that "we envision a future in which AI handles the split-second maneuvering during within-visual-range dogfights, keeping pilots safer and more effective as they orchestrate large numbers of unmanned systems into a web of overwhelming combat effects."

Commenting on the upcoming AI competition, he said in a recent statement that it doesn't matter who wins the dogfight, man or machine, as the AlphaDogfight Trials are about trust.

"If the champion AI earns the respect of an F-16 pilot," he said, "we'll have come one step closer to achieving effective human-machine teaming in air combat, which is the goal of the ACE program."

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