The nuclear launch authorizer’s guide to staying calm on election night – Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

“The sirens sounded very loudly, and I just sat there for a few seconds staring at the screen with the word  ‘launch’ displayed in bold red letters,” Petrov told the BBC in 2013. Petrov watched as his systems warned him of another four launches—for a total of five incoming Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missiles. Only minutes remained before they would reach their targets. “The computers changed their alerts from launch to missile strike.”

But Petrov decided not to trust the computer. He reported a false alarm to his superiors, forestalling a possible Soviet retaliatory strike. “But I myself was not sure until the very last moment,” he said.

Making an educated guess, Petrov decided that the alerts were wrong.

In a real war, the United States would launch a massive attack on Soviet defenses, Petrov had been told. “When people start a war, they don’t start it with only five missiles,” he told The Washington Post. Petrov, who died in 2017, is often credited with preventing a nuclear war.

The nuclear launch authorizer’s guide to staying calm on election night – Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

This is why AI or robots should not control things like nuclear missile launches.