The Pentagon is banking on a future where warfare is conducted with man and machine fighting as a single unbroken unit– and an official decided to share a few specifics on their progress.
Department of Defense Deputy Secretary Robert Work said the Pentagon is moving toward “human-machine collaboration and combat teaming” at the Reagan National Defense Forum on Nov. 7—a confab of national security and military advisers.
“The way we will go after human-machine collaboration is allowing the machine to help humans make better decisions, faster,” Work said.
This shift toward the next generation of combat is part of the Pentagon’s “third offset strategy” — which goes beyond just having the latest technology, and focuses on conventional deterrence against adversaries and campaign warfare — in an effort to neutralize the advancements of other nations. The goal for the Pentagon, is to combine human autonomy and artificial intelligence technology. (RELATED: Contractors Who Allegedly Let Russians Write PENTAGON CODE Pay Up)
Work outlined a few of the building blocks for the collaboration effort.
First, utilizing learning machines “that literally operate at the speed of light.” Work hypothesized about a potential cyber attack or electronic warfare situation where a learning machine helps individuals solve that problem immediately. “The way we will go after human-machine collaboration,” Work said during the panel “is allowing the machine to help humans make better decisions faster.”
The best example Work could identify was the F-35. He said the aircraft was “not a fighter plane. It is a flying sensor computer, that sucks in an enormous amount of data, correlates it, analyzes it, and displays it to the pilot on his helmet… We are confident the F-35 will be a war winner.” (RELATED: Pentagon Indefinitely Suspends $2.7 Billion Surveillance Blimp Program)
The second building block is assisted human operations, including wearable electronics. Work noted that part of human-machine collaboration involves “making sure that our war fighters have combat apps that help them in every single possible contingency.”
Along with both manned and unmanned systems and autonomous weapons, Work called these building blocks a fundamental element in achieving a “reconnaissance strike complex of the 21st century.”
Despite the emphasis on innovation and strategy, Work was intent to point out the strongest aspect of American national security.
“Our greatest advantage is our people,” Work said. “Our greatest advantage is the vibrant technological community in the United States and the vibrant technological communities in our defense industrial base. We will ride that advantage.” (RELATED: New Russian Hacker Exploit ‘Most Significant Cyber-Espionage Threat’ To US, NATO Partners)
This “third offset” is primarily a maneuver to counter the influence and abilities of “great powers,” specifically Russia and China. Work identified both China and Russia as nation-states with the ability to challenge the U.S. “conventionally as a nuclear deterrent force that can survive a first strike.” (RELATED: Russian Subs Near Massive Undersea Internet Lines Spook The Pentagon)
The timing of the security discussion is noteworthy, given both Russia and China have recently been involved with cyber attacks against the US. (RELATED: Report: Hackers From China, Germany, And South Korea Launched Attacks On Hillary’s Server)
In addition to infiltrating the cyber defenses of a number of U.S. technology corporations on Oct. 19, China is believed to have been behind the breach of health insurance giant Anthem on Oct. 28. (RELATED: US Healthcare Under Tidal Wave Of Chinese Hacking)
Russia was behind an exploit in Adobe Flash Player that was used to install malware against foreign emissaries on Oct. 13, as well as a Department of State breach in April. (RELATED: Russians Embarrass US, Steal Sensitive White House Info With Basic Cyber Attack)
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