Yesterday on Twitter, Economist editor Shashank Joshi tweeted a passage from Paul Scharre's book Four Battlegrounds, which details the race between four global powers (including the U.S.) to develop the most advanced artificial intelligence. In one passage, Scharre details how U.S. Marines spent a week walking around an AI system to improve its ability to detect people. On the seventh day, the Marines were tasked with attempting to circumvent detection. Their solutions involved gimmicks ripped straight from Looney Toons and Metal Gear.
These aren’t the marines you’re looking for. pic.twitter.com/qMwzJblQwp
— Shashank Joshi (@shashj) January 18, 2023
In a bizarre twist of video game logic brought to life, two Marines did somersaults to avoid detection, another literally dressed up as a fir tree and "walked like a tree" to avoid detection, and then there were two Marines who remembered their training in Shadow Moses and shuffled past the AI detection system under a cardboard box, apparently giggling the whole time. This is because the detection system was trained to recognize normal, bipedal human movement, but had not yet incorporated "gags from cartoons" in its algorithm.
While all three of these methods were joked about online, the cardboard box method gained the most attention and memes, as it seems once again Hideo Kojima had inadvertently predicted the future, this time with his games' signature gag.
— Yeah, I Guess So (@TheSlowestPizza) January 19, 2023
— ched evans (@scousesquatch) January 19, 2023
— Buster-GridKnight🌲Zeta (@SSSS_Dynazion) January 19, 2023
The humorous passage was intended to highlight the growing pains of AI development, and one hopes that engineers at DARPA have been able to make the necessary adjustments to its detection system so that AI doesn't miss a hostile soldier doing backflips to infiltrate an American military base.
At the very least, Americans can feel safe knowing that the best and brightest in the USMC can use their training from years of cartoons, gaming and media to outwit the enemy.