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Friday, June 24, 2016

Great Tribulation Robots… Flying Hunter-Killer Swarms… And Iron Men: Welcome To The END TIMES Arms Race

In his quest to transform the way the Pentagon wages war, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has turned to Silicon Valley, hoping its experimental culture, innovation and sense of urgency would rub off on the rigid bureaucracy he runs. 

Carter has made several trips to the region and appointed Eric Schmidt, the chairman of Google’s parent company to an advisory board. 

And recently he sat down at the Pentagon with Elon Musk to see what suggestions the billionaire founder of Tesla and SpaceX might have to make the nation’s military more efficient and daring. Musk’s answer?

“Having an incentive structure that rewards innovation is extremely important,” he said in an interview after the meeting. “It’s economics 101. Whatever you reward will happen.”

The Pentagon finds itself in a new arms race, struggling to keep pace with forms of combat that are fought with bytes as well as bullets.

The technological advancements disrupting established business sectors are now shaking up the world of war – where robots, swarming drones and weapons enhanced by artificial intelligence might one day rule the skies and seas. And just like in industry, the advantages may be fleeting.

The Pentagon is seeking "an enduring competitive edge that lasts a generation," said Loren Thompson, a defense consultant who serves at the Lexington Institute, a think tank based in Arlington. "But generations in technology these days are measured in months."

Harnessing the latest technology to upgrade the Defense Department's arsenal is a top priority for Carter, who recently said, "The race now depends on who can out-innovate faster than anyone else."

The effort has a renewed energy in the waning months of the Obama administration, which is trying to embed the effort into the bureaucracy – and budget. The Pentagon is turning to start-ups and steering billions of dollars to its own laboratories and project teams to develop prototypes for the kind of promising technologies it may need in the future.

It is testing autonomous ships that can remain at sea for months without a crew, an electromagnetic railgun that fires a projectile that can travel at seven times the speed of sound, and increasingly powerful laser weapons that sizzle their targets.

At a recent conference put on by Defense One, a website that provides news and analysis on defense and national security, highlighted an effort to produce "revolutionary textiles that combine fibers with electronics to create fabrics that can sense, communicate, store energy, monitor health, change color, and much more."

The Pentagon speaks of its "Third Offset Strategy," a way to offset shrinking budgets and transient technological superiority. The first offset was the use of nuclear deterrence to keep the Soviets at bay starting in the 1950s. The second was the advent of new precision munitions and stealth to overwhelm robust air and ground forces of adversaries.

The Pentagon hopes that this is the dawn of a third technological revolution, even if the conditions are markedly different. Instead of trying to offset the advantages of a single, traditional adversary, the Pentagon faces challenges on multiple fronts, including large, technologically advanced nations such as Russia and China, smaller, aspiring powers such as North Korea, and independent non-state actors such as the Islamic State.

As part of the earlier offset campaigns the Pentagon adopted military capabilities that emerged from its own labs. But big advances in robotics, biotechnology and computing are coming out of the commercial sector, much of which wants little to do with the Pentagon.

Credit to adn.com

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