JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. – The Future Study Program hosted a five-day virtual Character of Warfare 2035 seminar that brought together the foremost experts from a broad spectrum of fields to identify trends and emerging technologies that will affect the security environment of 2035.
The seminar critically analyzed how trends and technologies could profoundly change the character of warfare in the future. Experts looked at the Army's future and its use of AI, autonomy, robotics, and other emerging technologies to conceive transformational approaches to future warfare.
Gen. John M. Murray, Commanding General of Army Futures Command, kicked off the event and highlighted why this seminar is important.
"2035 is 14 years from now...you're going to blink your eyes, and we're going to be in 2035...if we don't' start investing in the development of those technologies right now, we'll be in 2035, and we'll still be saying we wish we could do that," said Murray.
"This seminar draws upon the expertise of the Army Modernization Enterprise to bring together scientists, technologists, engineers, subject matter experts, industry leaders and concept writers to identify critical opportunities to answer the fundamental question of what the Character of Warfare could be in the year 2035," said Col. David Parkes, Chief of the Future Warfare Division, Futures, and Concepts Center. "This year's Future Study Program will examine how Army forces could integrate emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics, and autonomous systems in transformational ways to deter, fight, and win.”
During the Science and Technology Trends in 2035 seminar panel, some focus areas were the history of machines and how they will impact the future.
According to one panelist, “In the age of the self-propelling machines, the internal combustion engine became the enabler and predictor of a chain of technological evolutions. This chain brought armored cars, tanks, planes, and this is the age we are still in.”
As we move forward, AI is enabling self-thinking machines. The use of unmanned vehicles and AI-supported technologies have been used for years, and the first true use of drones in a war played out in the Armenia-Azerbaijan war that started on Sept. 27, 2020, and have agreed to a truce on Nov. 9.
"This war was fought largely by drones, and drones were responsible for the majority of losses on the Armenian side. While these drones are not self-thinking, artificial intelligence is going to make such drones more independent, more autonomous, and more deadly," said one expert.
Warfare will look quite different, as AI becomes more prevalent.
One panelist stated, “The importance of centralized decision making will be diminished. There will be a shift from large and few to small and many. Once they are small, collaboration will take place in small teams or swarms. Additionally, communication will be very difficult to accomplish as adversaries will use many things of intelligence that will interfere with our communications. These things of intelligence can think on their own so that they won't need much guidance."
One of the most important questions presented was, “What will warfare and battles look like in the year 2035?"
During the Operational Trends and the Changing Character of Warfare panel, experts presented similar perspectives on how they see the future of armed conflict.
“Warfare will have quicker outcomes, and the deciding moments for it may have taken place before the battle itself. It will be a story of human and machine teaming. It will be everything from swarming to having robotic systems equivalents.”
We have to realize that 2035 is not that far away and that most of the things that we can imagine happening in the 2035 battlespace are based on technologies that already exist.