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Palantir’s New AI Platform Revolutionizes Military Operations, but at What Cost?

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TL;DR Breakdown

  • Palantir’s AI platform claims to ensure the ethical use of LLMs and AI in the military context.
  • The use of AI in military operations raises concerns about automation and unintended consequences.
  • The AIP offers guardrails and security features to mitigate legal, regulatory, and ethical risks posed by LLMs and AI.

Palantir, the controversial technology company founded by billionaire Peter Thiel, has launched an AI platform that could change the way military operations are conducted. The platform, known as the Artificial Intelligence Platform (AIP), integrates Large Language Models (LLMs) and other algorithms on private networks, providing cutting-edge AI capabilities. While the AIP claims to prioritize ethical principles in its military applications, some experts have raised concerns about the potential risks and unintended consequences of relying on LLMs and AI in sensitive and classified settings.

The benefits and risks of using AI in military operations

The AI platform of Palantir enables operators to pose questions and generate attack plans rapidly. In a demonstration of AIP, a military operator tasked with monitoring activity in Eastern Europe receives a notification that military equipment has accumulated in a field 30 kilometers from friendly forces. AIP leverages large language models to enable operators to pose questions such as “What enemy units are in the region?”, “Task new imagery for this location with a resolution of one meter or higher,” and “Generate three courses of action to target this enemy piece of equipment.”

Palantir’s AI platform enables users to leverage real-time information integrated from public and classified sources, automatically tagged and protected by classification markings, while enforcing which parts of the organization LLMs have access to in accordance with an individual’s permissions, role, and need to know.

Palantir’s vision of AI in military operations includes automated and abstracted systems, but some industry experts have raised concerns about using AI in military contexts. While there is a “human in the loop” in the AIP demo, their role seems limited to asking the chatbot what to do and then approving its actions. Critics argue that drone warfare has already abstracted warfare, making it easier for people to kill from vast distances with a button, and further automation could lead to unintended consequences.

The Palantir AIP is positioned in the market as a solution for control, governance, and trust-building. It is crucial for the responsible, successful, and compliant deployment of AI in the military, and AIP provides a secure digital record of operations as operators and AI takes action on the platform.

The AI platform provides security features that let users specify what LLMs and AI can see and cannot see, as well as what they can and cannot do via safe AI and handoff functionalities. The considerable legal, regulatory, and ethical dangers that LLMs and AI represent in delicate and classified environments must be mitigated by these safeguards and oversight.

Instead of selling an AI or large language model (LLM) tailored specifically for the military, Palantir offers to integrate current systems into a regulated environment. The software is shown in the AIP demo to handle a variety of open-source LLMs, including Dolly-v2-12b, GPT-NeoX-20B with modifications, and FLAN-T5 XL. Users can limit the actions that any LLM or AI in the system is capable of taking thanks to Palantir’s AI platform.

Carefully consider the effects

Palantir has a controversial history of selling domestic surveillance services to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Its pitch to the Pentagon for AI integration has also met with skepticism, with some experts raising concerns about the ethical use of AI in military contexts. The AI platform must adhere to ethical principles, and operators should have adequate training and education to understand the potential unintended consequences of their actions. While Palantir’s AIP may offer the illusion of safety and control, it is essential to carefully consider the effects of using LLMs and AI in military contexts.

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