Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Newport News, VA, United States (4E) – The terrible news is that future wars will be far more lethal than today’s conflicts. The good news is that much of the fighting won’t be carried out by flesh and blood American soldiers but by mobile robots armed with machine guns; automatic grenade launchers and autocannon.
More ominously, some of these battle robots will fire high-energy lasers to either disable or destroy enemy equipment and weapons.
This scenario was laid out recently by Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland, Deputy Commanding General of the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC).
Gen. MacFarland forsees a combat future in which autonomous machines with artificial intelligence (AI) brains will accompany U.S. Army our U.S. Marines infantry, either carrying supplies or firing weapons.
He said the advent of AI in combat will radically change the nature of the infantry.
“We’re standing on the cusp of a fundamental change in the history of warfare,” noted Gen. MacFarland.
Many military experts believe the traditional role of the infantryman — coming to grips with the enemy and seizing terrain — will evolve into that of a “battlefield coordinator” overseeing the operations of masses of armed robots.
They contend the main job of U.S. soldiers in the future will be to decide whether or not to command their robots to fire on the enemy.
The remarks were made by Gen. MacFarland at the third annual “Mad Scientist” conference, a partnership between TRADOC and Georgetown University.
Among the other topics discussed at the conference were the ethical use of autonomous machines in warfare; brain machine implants or neural interfaces that enhance a warfighter’s capabilities and developing approaches to conducting “multi-domain battles,” which are the next wave of warfare that will combine sea, air, land with cyber and space operations.
The increasing use of robots for fighting and logistics will enable flesh and blood American soldiers to arrive at a battle in peak readiness, and not exhausted from lugging 40 kg or more of gear for kilometers over rough terrain before fighting even begins.
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