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Rand Corporation: Reflections on the Future of Warfare (includes discussion of future science and tech)

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The purpose of a RAND Perspective is to provide
an informed view on a timely topic of interest. This
Perspective examines the perspectives from a small
group of defense experts about the future of warfare. We
first selected a few key topics that participants discussed
during a one-day workshop in 2017. We then drew on
research from a range of academic fields to make informed
speculation about the future of warfare. This speculation
carries its own biases, however. The themes that workshop
participants discussed, which themes we decided to
highlight in this perspective, and our analysis of these
selected themes were all subjective decisions.

2019 document about a 2017 workshop. Why the delay, I wonder?

We do not intend to itemize and assess all technologies
relevant to the future of warfare but rather to take the lead
from the workshop and summarize prevalent topics that
can support and may transform how humans engage in
warfare. In that regard, the following technology topics
were pervasive during the workshop:

• big data

• AI, cognitive modeling, and data analytics

• robotics

• human-machine teaming

• connectivity

• biotechnology.

Concerning AI:

The concern that the United States may be losing its
qualitative and quantitative edge in warfare applies to
military technology in general, but it is especially pronounced
with AI, given China’s focus on this evolving technology
(it has been particularly aggressive in this field). China’s
growth as a potential technology leader has been termed a
“Sputnik moment,”52 as it is clear China presents significant
technological competition. China designates AI as a
transformative technology underpinning economic and
military power and aims to dominate the field by 2030.5

In fact, “AI has become a new focal point of international
competition. AI is a strategic technology that will lead
the future.”54 Consequently, there is an increasing need
and urgency for an AI national strategy and an improved
understanding of AI technology among military personnel

On the biotech side, BCIs are mentioned:

Another key biotechnology trend tied to humanmachine teaming is work with BCI that enhances
wireless data transfer between humans and machines and
ultimately among humans.92 This technology, although
not currently deployed, could ultimately link capabilities
and other technologies via thought. BCI could enable
new approaches to performance assessment, as well
as performance enhancement and training. Although
research in this field is in early stages (in the lab), efforts
continue toward enabling more-efficient prosthetics,
wireless system control, wireless transfer of data between
human brains, performance enhancements, and
performance assessment.

Ultimately, this work could allow warfighters to
control drones, for example, with minimal degradation in
situational awareness, or to reduce the reaction time while
controlling an aircraft. There is promise for capabilities
that would allow commanders to monitor the cognitive
workload of warfighters and make personnel decisions
accordingly. Finally, BCI could foster cortically coupled
AI, whereby AI algorithms are trained using human brain
activity. In many respects, the warfighter’s body presents a
performance constraint, and, on a high level, BCI can help
remove that constraint.

Hmm... "cortically coupled AI, whereby AI algorithms are trained using human
brain activity." Where have I heard that before?... Oh, I know:


BCIs are going to be increasingly important to our future. Our fate is bound to that technology, whether we want it or not.

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