Wednesday, June 09, 2021

Does Uncle Sam Really Want You?

Uncle Sam doesn’t really want a gangly 18-year-old soldier to stand guard outside the gate of a military base, rather he wants a wide-area motion imagery (WAMI) system that provides surveillance, reconnaissance, and intelligence-gathering using specialized software and camera systems to detect and track hundreds of people and vehicles all at the same time over a city-sized area.  

Uncle Sam doesn’t really want a blurry eyed, half asleep and distracted human pilot flying in circles trying to find camouflaged bad guys on the ground, rather he wants a multispectral system, that can see things invisible to human eyes, consisting of four high-definition cameras covering five spectral bands; a three-color diode pump laser designator and rangefinder; laser spot search and track capability; automated sensor and laser bore sight alignment; three-mode target tracker., and MTS sensors that offers multiple fields of view, electronic zoom, and multimode video tracking.

Uncle Sam doesn’t really want more spies in trench coats that lurk in dark corners vaping, rather he wants persistent surveillance systems that collect and integrate data from specific geographic areas with data on activities that happened there at specific dates and times. This capability requires a spatiotemporal analytic method to recognize trends and patterns from large, diverse data sets. These data sets identify activities: events and transactions conducted by entities (people or vehicles) in an area, while documenting patterns of life and alerting to unusual events.  These activity-based intelligence systems (ABI) contain so many data points that it is impossible for human minds to process.  In these environments according to U.S. Air Force Lt. General David Deptula, “Humans are swimming in sensors and drowning in data.” 

Uncle Sam doesn’t really need yet another teenage recruit with a buzz cut fresh from his or her parents’ basement to become a rifleman, rather he wants a stabilized weapons mount with a sensor suite and fire-control software to enable on-the-move target acquisition and first-burst attack with programmable target reference points for several locations, programmable sector surveillance scanning, automatic target ballistic lead, automatic target tracking, and programmable no-fire zones, plus the integration of other weapons, escalation-of-force systems, sniper detection and integrated 360-degree situational awareness.  Humans should be able to engage targets remotely from safe locations while delivering precision fire while stationary or on the move, and should also be able to attack targets day or night using a daytime video camera, a thermal camera and a laser rangefinder.

Uncle Sam doesn’t really need more officers, rather he wants the defense industry to develop third-wave artificial intelligence that can deliver human-like reasoning.  The military wants brain-inspired, massively scalable computing for scenarios like battle management and defense.


In each of these five examples, humans have mentally and physically hit a wall.  They are incapable of competing in these hyper-sensing, hyper-thinking realms without the help of new technologies and advanced artificial intelligence.  This is increasingly the case with every job in the commercial sector as well.  Humans, in order to push through these hyper-thinking and sensing barriers, must reach beyond themselves and employ sensors, analytics and artificial intelligence as tools - as human brain extensions and augmentations.

I chose these military context examples, because the contrast in capabilities between humans and technology is so vividly demonstrated.  These examples signal that just about any job in the future will benefit from being assisted, augmented and extended by artificial intelligence and automation. 

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Kevin Benedict
Partner | Futurist at TCS
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***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.