It May Not Be a Platform

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New platforms may not always be the answer to rising military technology needs, according to strategic guidance just issued by the Pentagon’s research and engineering office. “In the near past, technology surprise” came from systems like revolutionary airplanes or ships, states the document. In the near future, “operational advantage may well come from new technologies and capabilities, or from new ways to use existing technologies that enhance and enable” existing platforms.

The research and engineering enterprise will be putting its limited funds to work on many enablers, such as ways to lower lifecycle costs, smart design, prototyping, and risk reduction. The next generation of technology surprises the United States may spring on its adversaries will also likely flow from quantum technologies, nano-engineered materials and devices, new sensors, autonomous systems like unmanned vehicles, and timekeeping/navigation devices that will far outstrip the abilities of GPS, states the document, dated May 1. The latter will likely be attacked and possibly “denied” by adept enemies.

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Technology – Master or Servant?

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In 2014 we find ourselves in awe of technology. And we have been for quite some time. As Arthur Clarke famously said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

However, as technology had advanced by leaps and bounds, this “magic” has made many people wonder and filled others with fear. Few people can forget the chilling scene from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey: Astronauts David Bowman and Frank Poole consider disconnecting HAL’s (Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic computer) cognitive circuits when he appears to be mistaken in reporting the presence of a fault in the spacecraft’s communications antenna. They attempt to conceal what they are saying, but are unaware that HAL can read their lips. Faced with the prospect of disconnection, HAL decides to kill the astronauts in order to protect and continue its programmed directives.

And it is easy to forget Arthur Clarke’s short story, The Sentinel was published in 1951 and Kubrick’s movie premiered in 1968. We have, indeed, been in awe/fear of technology for a long time. Therefore it should come as no surprise a New York Times Magazine cover story entitled “All is Fair in Love and Twitter is subtitled “The Sweet, Innocent Ideas and Ruthless Power Plays that Created Twitter.” Read more here.