Military and non-military defense industry technology experts convened at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., on July 13 for the second annual Defense One Tech Summit to explore how the technology of today will become the game-winning resources of tomorrow.
The summit featured panel discussions about how breakthroughs in artificial intelligence (AI), biometrics, drones, microsatellites and microelectronics will shape global security. Topic sessions included:
• Industries of the future;
• Using computer algorithms to win wars;
• Next-generation architectures and artificial intelligence;
• Cyber and electronic warfare (the electron battlefield);
• The next space race;
• Merging soldier minds and machines; and
• The future of drones.
Defense One Executive Editor Kevin Baron sat down with the U.S. Army’s top cyber commander, Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone, in an exclusive interview. The two spoke of the current and future state of security, as well as the latest technological advances and what American forces need to fight and defend against threats including those from foreign attackers like ISIS.
According to a Defense One article, the Army is looking to integrate network soldiers with tactical units. The article noted that Nakasone believes “bringing network-attack-and-defense skills to tactical units is the next step in the evolution of U.S. Army cyber capabilities.”
Nakasone, who leads 41 Army Cyber Mission Force Teams, said it’s time to begin figuring out how the Army can decentralize that capability, whether it’s resident permanently at a brigade combat team or a division or a corps.
“It’s where we see the future,” he said. “The Army has now looked at it and said, ‘What do we need at the tactical level? What does a brigade combat team need?'”
Although tactical leaders are ready, Nakasone said there’s still a lot to be decided as “the most difficult thing Army Cyber Command does is operate and defend its networks and weapons,” according to the article.
In a separate session about using computer algorithms to win wars, U.S. Marine Col. Drew Cukor discussed the near-term opportunities and challenges to automating intelligence collection and analysis.
Cukor, who is chief of the Algorithmic Warfare Cross Function Team at the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, said DoD is starting with computer vision because it’s becoming incredibly powerful. There’s even been immense breakthroughs from research into self-driving cars.
“We have an acquisition community that is larger than the entire Marine Corps,” Cukor said. “We have a large maintenance corps that could be helped by the kind of predictive AI already in use by commercial aviation companies.”
Defense One’s Deputy Editor Bradley Peniston reported in an article that, “by the year’s end, advanced algorithms will be helping troops in Iraq and Syria hunt through video and still imagery to find ISIS targets.”
In terms of expanding its use of AI from computer vision, Peniston noted that Cukor’s team is seeking expert assistance from military analysists and commercial firms.
“All of these things need to be put in harmony,” Cukor said. “In these next 36 months, we will break this out – what needs to be commercial (and) what’s inherently governmental. When we get to the point where we’re talking about decision-making, we’ll have another debate but we’re not anywhere near that now.”
This year’s tech summit also featured the D Lab, a live showcase of the most sophisticated technologies in the defense space today.