Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Most Militarily Decisive Use of Autonomy You Won’t See - Defense One

The Most Militarily Decisive Use of Autonomy You Won’t See - Defense One: Armed drones and robot pack mules may get the headlines now, but far more powerful strategic effects will be achieved by artificial intelligence and machine-learning systems that select and attack targets autonomously — and fend off the enemy AIs trying to do the same.

As shown by the monograph “20YY: Preparing for War in the Robotic Age,” co-authored by now-Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work, and the public discussion around Third Offset strategy, U.S. defense officials believe autonomy will change warfare in the air, sea, land and space domains. Yet policymakers, acquisition professionals, and operators have yet to grapple fully with the implications of autonomy in cyberspace. The word does not even appear in the 2015 DoD Cyber Strategy, nor in the draft National Cyber Incident Response Plan of 2016.

Progress, however, is being made. In June, the Defense Science Board issued an important report that differentiated between “autonomy in motion,” such as robots and self-driving vehicles, and the less-well-known “autonomy at rest,” including most autonomous cyber systems.

Just a few months later, DARPA turned a spotlight on cyber autonomy with its Cyber Grand Challenge at the 2016 DEF CON hacking convention in Las Vegas. Seven teams pitted algorithms against each other in a $2 million contest to autonomously interpret and fix brand-new code, and to patch vulnerabilities at machine speed without causing harm.