A real-life AI-powered robot was outsmarted by a tactic many of us have used in the popular Metal Gear Solid franchise.
The misconception that people can’t learn from video games is about to get another case study. Metal Gear Solid is a long-running and very popular video game franchise, the first game came out back in 1987. The last main title, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain released in 2015 and was followed by a spin-off title Metal Gear Survive in 2018.
The franchise ended up being one of the most revered franchises ever made. Its gameplay style with a mix of military action, espionage, and stealth was a hit. Not to mention the story, which was full of inspired details and even some hilarious moments.
Metal Gear Solid tactics used against AI?
Published by Konami and created by Hideo Kojima, the franchise became a weird and wonderful experience for gamers. Kojima has since left Konami and created Kojima Productions where new adventures have been born, such as Death Stranding.
Going back to the point about it being a weird and wonderful experience, the games gave players some out-of-the-box tactics. Or should I say in the box? One ability available to players was being able to hide from enemies inside a cardboard box. In later games, this could be taken even further, when our protagonist Snake could slide down hills while inside the box and then pop out like a jack in the box to take down enemies.
While it sounds kind of far-fetched, it seems that this tactic may not be so bad after all. In a Twitter post from The Economist’s defence editor, Shashank Joshi, an excerpt from an upcoming book based on AI intelligence in the military was shared. The book’s author, Paul Scharre shares details on how the US military had used a group of marines to improve an AI robot’s human detection algorithms.
‘living in a cardboard box’
So that engineers could build data to improve on the AI’s detection algorithm, a group of marines would walk around the robot. After a few days of this and collecting data, someone decided to mix things up. This time the marines were asked to try and defeat the AI algorithm rather than helping it.
It was detailed that the marines placed the AI robot in the middle of a traffic circle. They then had to attempt to approach the robot without being detected. If the marines were able to get to the robot and touch it without being detected they would win the experimental game. Of the eight marines that tried, every single one of them was able to go undetected. They managed to beat the system by using clever tricks that the AI system struggled to process.
One marine, stripped a fir tree and walked like he was himself the said fir tree. Two of the marines somersaulted for 300 metres and never once got detected. Our personal favourite however was the two marines who adopted tactics from Metal Gear Solid, by hiding under cardboard boxes. The book notes that “you could hear them giggling the whole time.” Since the AI system had been trained to detect humans walking and not humans, pretending to be trees or hiding under boxes it failed to detect the marines.
So, if you ever need to hide from an AI robot, grab the nearest box and hop on inside.