Twice during the Cold War, the coolness and sagacity of Russian officers preserved the world from nuclear war. In October 1962, in the midst of the Cuban missile crisis, Vassili Arkhipov, then a political officer aboard the submarine B-59, opposed the use of a torpedo armed with a nuclear warhead against the American fleet, despite the rules of engagement specified by Admiral Fokhine before departure. The B-59 had not received the counter-order sent by the Russian Admiralty as it tried to escape detection by a US Navy destroyer. In September 1983, at the height of the Euromissile crisis, Stanislav Petrov, guard officer at the Serpoukhov-15 strategic radar station south of Moscow, kept his cool when 4 ballistic missiles appeared on his screens, heading towards The soviet union. The young officer quickly analyzed the situation, and concluded that the system was wrong on the basis of the low number of missiles sent. He did not sound the alarm, and the Soviet Union did not respond to what was, indeed, a system error. In these two very decisive cases, since having made it possible to avoid a world nuclear war, the fate of the planet was preserved by the sagacity of low-ranking officers, aware of the implications of a bad decision in the matter.
Nowadays, many Defense programs promote Artificial Intelligence to assist human decision-making, but also to pilot autonomous systems, whether air, land, naval or space. The Think Tank Rand Corporation led a study on the consequences of using these systems, especially in the context of confrontations between major military powers, and the results are, as we shall see, far from encouraging.
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