back to article NASA launches a challenge to fund AI systems for future spacecraft – hopefully without HAL-style errors

Welcome to this week's roundup of AI-related news. The US military wants AI tech to help find a COVID-19 vaccine: The US Department of Defense plans to spend about $3.8bn – given by Congress through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act – to fund AI research to treat COVID-19. "Funds are required to …

  1. MrMerrymaker Bronze badge


    Tried reading it. Was pleased it was right to left, and the art (done by humans) is great.

    But it fast descends into nonsense, basically. Just read the dialogue, it really does sound like a chatbot!

    1. stiine Silver badge

      Re: Manga

      Teenagers probably won't have any problems with it. For the rest of us, it'll be like talking to a teenager.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    and must be able to...

    take along with it a modified Tesla Cybertruck

    notwithstanding the fact that it is frigging heavy and will sink into the moon/mars dust.

    As Tesla/Space X/Elon are the heroes of the monent the above seems likely and the Tesla Fanbois will go apeshit if the above was true (which it isn't).

    Besides who wants a bullet proof vehicle on suppsedly uninhabited worlds? Does NASA know someting that we don't? Does Area 51 really contain Alien spacecraft... Don't we need to know this?

    /s /s /s

    {this post is not meant to be taken seriously}

  3. steviebuk Silver badge

    The AI will just...

    ...kill us all.

    I don't wear a tinfoil hat. Its fine looking into AI but I think we have to be careful with it. Having watched Rob Miles video recently on AI safety and specification gaming.

    You'll give the AI a reward for finding a cure for Covid 19. But because the AI is allowed to do its own thing and learn. It will just learn it can just kill everyone to get its reward. If there are no humans to cure, it doesn't have to find a cure but can still claim its reward.

    And below the list of results.

    One of the amusing and scary ones is the agent that would constantly kill itself at the end of level 1 to avoid losing at the end of level 2.

    1. Bowlers

      Re: The AI will just...

      The AI will just...

      ...kill us all.

      Or if sufficiently advanced it will assess the situation and instigate a cull. Around 50% of the population to start with, maybe using a virus?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The AI will just...

      Please drop the AI killer robot stuff it's beyond hokey and if you're here you should know true AI isn't possible

      1. tony2heads

        Re: The AI will just...

        I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      2. steviebuk Silver badge

        Re: The AI will just...

        Its not beyond hokey when you look at those models or real AI being given a reward for completion of a task but not being given strict enough instructions not to cheat. Yes, its highly unlikely if we take AI safety serious enough but also not impossible.

        And you can never say true General Intelligence AI is impossible. Its highly improbable at the moment but we don't know what we'll invent in the future that may make it possible.

    3. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: The AI will just...

      Assimilate humanity, just think, no more politics, no more commuting, no more Feacebook and we will all be a part of the IoT!

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: The AI will just...

        HAL didn't make any errors. It's just that he was given a clumsily-drafted set of orders just before the mission, a set that superceded his original mission and included the order to keep them secret from his crew. The problem was that the people responsible for the secret orders didn't trust the people who actually knew how to program HAL - or evidently simulate the ammended mission with an earthbound instance of HAL, for fear of revealing the secret.

        1. J. Cook Silver badge
          Black Helicopters

          Re: The AI will just...

          As one who never actually saw the movie until recently and had read the book years ago, I was a little surprised that it wasn't mentioned anywhere in the movie about why HAL went insane.

          And while I know that ML is still in it's infancy, we are putting far too much trust in it without fully understanding it's logic.

          We really need to make any ML or AI system be Three Laws Compliant before we trust them fully.

  4. Marketing Hack Silver badge

    "Advanced machine learning and artificial intelligence for autonomous spacecraft"

    Bonus prize money if you set these systems up to say "By your command!" when they boot.

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: "Advanced machine learning and artificial intelligence for autonomous spacecraft"

      AI spacecraft will need to be way smarter than anything else if they are to stand a chance of equalling the problem solving that had been achieved by numerous teams over the years.

    2. HildyJ Silver badge

      Re: "Advanced machine learning and artificial intelligence for autonomous spacecraft"

      Just as long as they don't emulate Sirius Cybernetics Corporation's GPP (Genuine People Personalities).

      (Although the power of Alan Rickman's voice from the film cannot be discounted)

  5. LucreLout Silver badge


    The US military wants AI tech to help find a COVID-19 vaccine

    We don't need "artificial intelligence" when the problem looks likely to have already been solved by real intelligence (Chadox1 the Oxford vaccine).

    Society needs to start valuing human intelligence a fair bit higher than it has to date. Beauty and power are found throughout the solar system, galaxy, and universe. Intelligence, so far as we are able to ascertain, is found only here.

    So why does a model earn more than a scientist?

    1. Marketing Hack Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Yawn

      Well, models help sell stuff, which is always an in-demand skill. Scientists--not so much.

      And to be fair, models have a far shorter career than scientists.

      And models generally look great, which is attractive to people and a cause for inspiration and aspiration in others. Scientists--not so much :)

      (Paris would approve.)

    2. IGotOut Silver badge

      Re: Yawn

      Actually, most models earn very little. They usually have to pay for all their travel and accommodation. A catwalk model doing the Paris fashion show, for example, can end up in making little or no money...and that's the one's lucky enough to get picked. The one's that don't, well they've paid a fortune for a week in Paris.

      Most of their bread and butter money is doing basic shoots for adverts, clothing companies and other mundane stuff. Think 16 hour days.

      Source: I dated a professional make-up model for two years and got to know many other types of model.

      Yes, I was punching well above my weight.

  6. RichardEM

    The progeniter of V'ger

    I hope that we will be prepared when that probe comes back looking for it's creator.

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