TH: Where do you think that the Pentagon most needs to engage these innovative companies and people? Is it AI? Unmanned systems? Communications networks?
CB: All of it, but primarily autonomy. Autonomy — enabled by artificial intelligence, edge computing and other technologies — allows you to operate at scales and speeds that you simply cannot do under the traditional model of big, expensive, heavily manned systems that, no matter how much money you throw at them, will only be able to do a limited number of things. The problem is that China has been developing very precise capabilities to disrupt, disable, degrade and destroy those limited numbers of big things. This is our strategic problem. This is why our future force needs larger numbers of cheaper, more autonomous systems.
We’re not talking about photon torpedoes and intergalactic space travel. We’re talking about systems that are already in existence; that are imminently fieldable if we move with the right sense of urgency.
TH: In your book, you wrote a bit about the ethics of this and taking the human out of the “kill chain.” Is that something that’s going to happen?
CB: Yes, in time human beings will need to rely more on intelligent machines to help them understand, decide and act in warfare.
— Bloomberg Next China (@next_china) October 4, 2021