29 November 2015

Supersoldiers and Autonomous Weapons

Friday, 20 November 2015

Here's some thinking on how warfare will change over the next twenty years. 

Fast forward 20 years (about the age of the WWW). An aging, schlerotic EU has become the destination for over a hundred million refugees and migrants fleeing the densely populated killing fields of Africa and SW Asia. 

The rapidity of influx has led the EU to take extreme measures. Tens of millions of these migrants/refugees are roughly housed in relocation camps all across Europe. 

Violence within these camps has risen steadily, leading to an EU-wide Islamic insurgency.

The soldiers sent to counter this insurgency are outfitted with autonomous weapons. These weapons combine deep learning (making them very smart) and cloud robotics (allowing the military to rapidly share advances in training and technique) to provide these soldiers with capabilities far beyond what we've seen in previous wars. 

Here's an idealized example so you can get the idea. A human/robot team advances down a street in an urban environment. 
Big Data: The autonomous weapons used by the team continuously scans the street in all directions. These weapons can visually ID everyone on the street from a database of 3.5 billion people in under a second. It also continuously analyzes the people, windows, etc. down the street looking for the visual signatures of concealed weapons and IEDs. i.e. A car at the end of the street is resting a bit too heavily on its springs, indicating there may be explosives in it. These weapons learned to do this based on billions of hours of combat and police training images/footage (aka Big Data). 

Customized Training: The human members of the team have trained the weapons to alert the team when it sees any electric vehicles demonstrating even the slightest bit of irregular behavior -- the rapid acceleration possible with autonomously driven electric vehicles can make them dangerous kinetic threats in three seconds.

Cloud training: The autonomous weapons with the soldiers with connections to military's cloud. Fortunately, this connection to the cloud gave these weapons access to the certified methodologies for identifying and neutralizing a new DIED (drone IED) used by Islamic insurgents only yesterday. This paid off. The new DIED entered the street behind the team, and the systems new how to ID it, engage it, and neutralize its countermeasures flawlessly. During the engagement, the human team member noticed a slight change in the behavior of the DIED -- it released its homemade cluster bomblets earlier than anticipated. The data/footage of the engagement is tagged with a note to this effect and it is uploaded to the cloud in order to add to the approved methods for countering it. 

Of course, much of this capability might become open source and available to anyone smart enough to employ it.

John Robb

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