In its ninth iteration, the AFCEA-GMU Critical Issues in C4I Symposium brought together leaders in academia, industry and government in May at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, to address important topics in command, control, communications, computers and intelligence (C4I) technology. The two-day program focused on increased autonomy and spectrum management, among other subjects.
Autonomous functionality is increasing. The evidence is everywhere from drones and self-driving cars to voice-controlled devices such as IBM's Watson and Amazon’s Echo. The key to successfully transitioning to these increasingly autonomous systems for the military and defense industry is trust, said Dr. Paul D. Nielsen, director and CEO, Software Engineering Institute, Carnegie Mellon University.
Managing spectrum, much like other national resources such as water, natural gas and land, is a growing issue due to the number of users. Now more than ever, with growing cybersecurity threats, it's important to outline a national approach to spectrum utilization for both the U.S. economy and the federal government.
The world of spectrum is exploding and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) wants in. Paul Tilghman, program manager, Microsystems Office, DARPA, believes that collaborative use of spectrum can make this scarce resource available to everybody but many challenges exist.
“We are not nimble right now with spectrum. We need to move away from worrying about spectrum availability and think about how we can automate it,” Tilghman said during his morning keynote address at the AFCEA/GMU Critical Issues in C4I Symposium.
Weapon system acquisition costs and schedules are trending exponentially, and unsustainably, up and to the right. The Air Force can move down the cost/schedule curve to benefit value delivered to the warfighter, and the key is communications and dialog, according to Lt. Gen. Arnold W. Bunch Jr., USAF, military deputy, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition.
Industry must keep the Air Force honest for starters, the general explained. “If we are asking for something industry cannot do, they need to tell me that from the beginning,” he stated during his address to the AFCEA International/GMU Critical Issues in C4I Symposium.
By the year 2040, we can expect to have general artificial intelligence comparable to humans, according to William Halal, chairman of TechCast Global. “By 2020, a $1,000 computer will have the power of the brain," he predicted. Speaking on a panel at the AFCEA International/George Mason University Critical Issues in C4I Symposium, Halal went on to ask, “What happens to all the people whose jobs will be replaced as a result?"
Looking at the most likely scenarios for the years 2020-2030, Halal shared a macro forecast of technology, social trends and some of the wild cards he sees.
Through innovation, we must adjust the human-machine balance to increase operational effectiveness. This begins with investing in people and technology, said Lt. Gen. Rhett Hernandez, USA (Ret.) at the AFCEA International/George Mason University Critical Issues in C4I Symposium. Our service men and women have trust in each other, but they must have trust that we will provide the capabilities to keep them successful. Trust is the number one ingredient that will create or hinder innovation, he explained.
Gen. Hernandez is West Point Cyber Chair to the Army Cyber Institute and president of CyberLens LLC. He was the first commander of Army Cyber Command (ARCYBER).
Is the emergence of robotics raising a generation of meat puppets? Are you a meat puppet?
While the questions posed by Bob Gourley, co-founder of Cognitio, drew a little laughter from attendees at the AFCEA International/George Mason University Critical Issues in C4I Symposium, they should provide serious fodder for discussion on the people whose jobs are about to be replaced by robots.
“I hope you laughed at that the term, but I hope that that makes it memorable for you,” Gourley said of slang adopted from sci-fi novels. “I hope it leads to a serious thought … about the people whose jobs are being displaced, because it’s going to be in the millions.”