Good morning from the SciTech Futures team. We’re gearing up for our summer project roll out and figured we’d send a quick update. We’ve identified five key trends in the March exercise, derived from your contributions. They’re a mix of robotics and artificial intelligence, and how these technologies will develop together to change the battlespace, and society, in 2045.

  • AI mentors could radically transform the nature of training and knowledge storage: Books, journals, and field manuals can hold vast stores of knowledge, but take time to ingest. That’s where teachers and trainers come in. Inspired by ideas like k3nsh1n‘s “DigiPatton,” will soldiers get their next mentor on a thumb drive?
  • AI will become the primary actor in future cyber‐operations and a source of disinformation on a mass scale: When AI’s fight, we lose, unless we stay out of the way and let them duke it out at the speed of electrons. What’s the role of humans in fights between bots for control of our social media feed?
  • Robotics and AI will augment battlefield medicine, but will not replace human medics or physicians within the next 3 decades: There’s nothing like a human touch, but concepts like thunderbolt‘s “Robotic CASEVAC” or “AI-assist for Combat Medic” from nate_f could be saving lives sooner rather than later.
  • There may be many jobs better left to AI, robotics, and automation. We will need to learn when to let the robots take over, and when a human in the loop is still needed: Bots can be smarter, fairer, and more consistent than humans, available 24 hours a day to whoever needs them. That’s great when managing infrastructure or, as fdindl proposes, designing new products, but what about making medical decisions or judging criminal cases? Does their ability to be fair mean we should trust AI to make decisions without us?
  • Robotics and AI will have deep implications at the macro (force structure) and micro (small unit operations) levels: The one thing we can be sure about is that by 2045, the world will be a very different place, but are we building towards chem‘s “Cyber doomsday” or working out our differences with swords and maces? Will our dependence on advanced technology make us more vulnerable, both as a fighting force and as a society?

You can read our full report here, along with more materials on the media page. The results of the crowdsourcing exercise will be shared throughout the Army S&T enterprise and with key stakeholders, including TRADOC. The intent is for these results to inform S&T strategy for robotics and AI and to inform activities such as Unified Quest that are looking to understand how the Army will need to fight in 2045 and beyond. The SciTech Futures team would like to extend a special thanks to the TRADOC G2 Mad Scientist Initiative for their support throughout this effort. Mad Scientist has released their own report, “Robotics, Artificial Intelligence & Autonomy: Visioning Multi-Domain Warfare in 2030-2050”, describing their vision. Read more about their findings in the full report.

Looking forward (but not quite to the 2040’s), we’ll reach out to some of our top players (both according to the leader board and based on the quality of ideas as determined by our experts) to mail out prints of the concept art inspired by the ideas, but we also invite you to print your own, (you can find details in the updated concept art gallery)

We’d also like to thank everyone who came out for the Citizen Science Conference in beautiful St. Paul from 17 to 20 May. It was great to see all of the interesting work being done in public science, and to have the chance to share this project with the crowd.