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Behind the Wings ®
The Podcast – S3, Episode 27

This episode will dive into the cutting-edge realm of AI in aviation, with a particular focus on its military applications. From autonomous wingmen drones to predictive maintenance, we will explore the opportunities and risks of AI as it transforms the landscape of aerial warfare.

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Our guest today is Col Tucker Hamilton, callsign “Cinco”. As the Chief of AI test and operations for the USAF, Col Hamilton is at the cutting edge of researching, testing, and implementing artificial intelligence in the realm of military aviation. Col. Hamilton began his career as an operational F-15C pilot, supporting Red Flag exorcises, and real-world Operation Noble Eagle missions, at times escorting Air Force One and the US President. He served as a Chief Instructor, Test Pilot, and has more than 2,000 flying hours in the F-35, F-15, F-18, F-16, A-10, and more than 20 additional aircraft. Is there anything he hasn’t done? We’re about to find out!

Join us as we unravel the intricate web of AI technologies shaping the future of aviation, while gaining unique perspectives from a seasoned military leader at the forefront of this transformative field. There’s a LOT to explore!

Autonomous Drone

The US Air Force’s XQ-58A Valkyrie experimental combat drone, which made its first flight under the control of artificial intelligence on July 25, 2023. Credit: USAF.

Key Takeaways:
  • The Hollywood Bias makes AI seem scarier than it actually is. AI is just software and math that has to follow very narrow rules that humans establish. Its computer code trained with guardrails set in place by the programmers. AI cannot learn the way that we learn.
  • Cinco is most excited about the future of humans and AI working together in all industries. For example, AI could aid radiologists in finding cancer, or assist pilots by managing more tedious tasks.
  • With AI starting to become more widely available, the ethics surrounding it becomes a huge topic. As we move forward with this new technology, ethics will continue to be a part of the conversation.
  • AI will likely never be fully autonomous because the programing would be biased. Since humans are inherently biased in one way or another, so would AI technology, meaning humans will always need to be present when AI is involved.
  • The five parts of the DOD AI Ethics code are Being Responsible, Equitable, Traceable, Reliable, and Governable.
  • DARPA ran a competition between AI trained software and actual pilots. They went head to head in a simulator and the AI won by a landslide. This advancement is exciting because it means that we can create AI tutors to help train pilots at every level.
Resources:
Behind the Wings Season 4

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Behind the Wings Season 4

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