«ARL-SR-0327 ● JUNE 2015 US Army Research Laboratory Visualizing the Tactical Ground Battlefield in the Year 2050: Workshop Report by Alexander ...»
Can we expect pervasive attacks on communication links and/or attacks on • information processing nodes (cyber-attacks)?
Will deception and dis-simulation greatly increase in importance?
• Will “deceptor” swarms be deployed?
• Will opponent's sensors be exploited as channels to present deceptive • information, e.g., active multispectral camouflage and mimicry?
Would this change the role and function of humans?
• Would the analysis of the enormous volume of information be handled • largely by machines, with humans learning to collaborate with machines and thinking at higher levels of abstraction?
Would far greater attention be devoted to counter-deception analysis with • recognition that data and computations may be corrupted by cyber-attacks?
Would augmented cognition become necessary?
• Would there be extensive attacks (via deception, confusion, etc.) on • cognitive processes, individual and collective, of opponents C2?
Will the Soldiers of 2050 simply abandon this morass of information and • counter-information and find a way around all this unwieldy complexity?
2.2 Major Aspects of the Tactical Battlefield of 2050 The discussion of what major changes we could expect with respect to our ability to see, communicate, think, and decide on the tactical battlefield of 2050 was predicated upon a shared view that this battlefield would be characterized by the vastly increased presence and reliance on: automated processes and decision making; humans with augmented sensing; and information-related and cognitive capabilities. This breakout group posited that transport (getting capability to the battlefield) would not be a limiting consideration.
The group identified and discussed the following 7 interrelated future capabilities that they felt would differentiate the battlefield of the future from current
capabilities and engagements:
Augmented humans • Automated decision making and autonomous processes •
Ability to understand and cope in a contested, imperfect, information • environment For each of these developments, the group offered their reasons why they felt that these potential transformative capabilities would be found on the tactical battlefield of 2050. They discussed the ways that adversaries could counter or mitigate the effectiveness of these capabilities as well as how to counter to these counters.
2.2.1 Augmented Humans The battlefield of the future will be populated by fewer humans, but these humans would be physically and mentally augmented with enhanced capabilities that improve their ability to sense their environment, make sense of their environment, and interact with one another, as well as with “unenhanced humans,” automated processes, and machines of various kinds. As a result, they would not only do things differently, but do different things compared to the human combatants of today with their limited forms of augmentation and enhancement.
This development can be reasonably expected by 2050 for a number of reasons. It is the logical extension of a number of current trends. There are a growing number of human capability enhancers that have been developed to help those who have suffered various injuries or have other disabilities. Great progress has been made in recent years to enhance vision, hearing, and cognitive skills. There are a growing number of devices that are being implanted in humans, and with each new and lifeenhancing implant, there has been a growing acceptance of implants. Great strides have been made in enhancing the human-machine interface and this trend is expected to continue, enabling humans and machines to work together more “naturally.” The computing power necessary for improving the performance and capability of these augmentations and enhancements is expected to increase at a rate sufficient to support new and more powerful enhancements that rely upon computational power. Miniaturization is expected to continue at an accelerating rate, which makes these capabilities more practical. Computer-assisted decision making is proliferating in virtually all aspects of our lives. The totality of these and other trends will make these capabilities available.
How can one counter the increased presence of “super-sensing and sense-making humans” on the battlefield? For one, these enhanced humans become high value targets and thus adversaries will focus more attention on neutralizing them compared to a “normal” human. The number of enhanced humans on the battlefield of 2050 will depend upon a number of factors, which include their organic capabilities and the expense necessary to equip, train, and support them. The general sense of workshop participants was that there will be relatively few of them.
Thus, another counter would be to overwhelm them with large numbers of ordinary humans and/or machines. While these humans may be enhanced and may require less food and water to be sustained, they will likely be adversely affected by environmental conditions that are “hostile” for humans – radiation, chemical weapons, biological agents, and other area-denial techniques. An indirect means of countering “super human” capabilities would be to attack the supply chain needed to “develop and field” them, and thus, increase the cost of equipping and/or training. Finally, the computer capabilities inherent in augmented humans could be subject to spoofing, cyber-attacks, or other forms of electronic warfare. In addition, there are other attacks that would directly target the computer processors and communications capabilities needed to make super humans function as intended.
Countering these counters would involve developing better situation awareness of what could be encountered on the battlefield; reducing and protecting communications links (mobile networking); assuring our supply chain; and developing contingency plans that do not depend solely on augmented humans.
2.2.2 Automated Decision Making and Autonomous Processes The tactical battlefield of 2050 will be qualitatively more automated with autonomous processes making many decisions that humans make today. Decision agents would be integral to all of the processes associated with C2, IPB, ISR, and BDA. The tasks that these agents would perform include filtering information, fact checking, fusion, dynamic access control (determining who has access to what information), and adaptive information dissemination (who should receive specific pieces of information and/or notifications). In addition, automated processes will task sensors (what to look at/for) and alter communications paths and priorities based upon their (machine) understanding of mission intent and context.
These developments are likely to occur because they are critically needed, because humans will simply be unable to keep up with information flows and the pace of the battle as they do not have sufficient information-processing capabilities and cognitive bandwidth. Furthermore, the barriers to acceptable forms of automated decision processes will be reduced as we continue to grow more accustomed to automated decision processes in our everyday lives and come to appreciate that automated processes can produce better decisions than humans can under certain conditions (time requirements, stress). As in the previous discussion, computer processing power will not be a limiting factor.
Among the potential counters for dramatically increased automation of key battlefield processes, including spoofing and denial of service attacks for information-dependent processes. Other counters include direct and indirect attacks on computer networks and communications capabilities. Counter-countermeasures include developing an increased ability to filter out extraneous and unauthenticated messages and a better understanding of how these automated processes work under various stresses and attacks so that they can be made more agile.
2.2.3 Misinformation as a Weapon When the only information a Soldier received was from a few authoritative and trusted sources, determining the source of information was not a problem. Of course, this also meant that Soldiers often did not have sufficient understanding of intent and context, and thus, were less able to exercise initiative and proactively deal with dynamically changing situations. As information became separated from the chain of command, Soldiers began to have access to more information sources, but inherited the problem of assessing the quality of information sources.
This trend will, by 2050, result in an “information-rich” environment (some would call this a condition of information overload) where it will be difficult for an individual to assess the quality (correctness, authenticity, security) of each piece of information. This makes directed misinformation attacks relatively hard to detect.
Thus, a little well-placed misinformation could go a long way to undermine appropriate trust, sow confusion, delay decisions, and make decisions more likely to be in error. By 2050, we anticipate that sensory misinformation will be in use (spoofed inputs that fool various senses), thus providing more ways to confuse, delay, and redirect adversaries.
This development is likely, because it is increasingly easy to synthesize believable material that is, in fact, misleading. Misinformation (deception) has always been an attractive weapon because of its relatively low-cost and covert nature (it cannot be easily traced to its real source).
There are a number of ways to counter misinformation, the most direct and obvious of which is to be able to authenticate sources or have trusted sources available. Lest this not result in denying ourselves the full range of good information that is available, we need to be able to employ various forms of analyses (data mining and context analysis) to arrive at appropriate conclusions regarding the veracity of information. Other counters include training individuals to be vigilant and depend less upon the availability of “perfect” information. Another is to be better at misinformation than an adversary, which might deter them. The counter to the counter of adopting a trusted source strategy is to compromise trusted sources.
2.2.4 Micro-targeting Micro-targeting represents a considerable revolution in the concepts and capabilities associated with current instantiations of precision strike. For example, instead of being able to identify and engage a particular building or moving vehicle while minimizing collateral damage, the concept of micro-targeting involves the identification and surgical engagement of specific individuals employing either kinetic or non-kinetic means.
Workshop participants felt that micro-targeting was likely because advances in our ability to penetrate individuals’ cyber environments coupled with the ability to effectively mine the enormous amount of available information relating to individuals makes it possible to understand what actions would have the desired effect for a given individual, as well as making it possible to locate a given individual with precision. These make micro-targeting possible. Workshop participants felt that weapons miniaturization would continue, thus making engagement and hence micro-targeting possible. Micro-targeting would be an extremely valuable capability as it provides more control, results in less collateral damage, and is less detectable.
By virtue of its properties, micro-targeting would be difficult to counter. However, the following counters are possible. Covert movements accompanied by deception and misinformation could thwart timely location. Decoys could be effective, as well. Targeted organizations could dynamically restructure their organization and their delegation of decision rights thus changing the target value of specific individuals. An adversary could decide to escalate raising the costs incurred.
Counters to these counters involve better situation awareness to detect attempts to evade detect, spoof, or misdirect a micro-attack.
2.2.5 Large-scale Self-organization An expected feature of the battlefield of 2050 would be the existence of new, more edge-like approaches to command and control where individuals, teams, and software agents would, when appropriate, self-organize, dynamically creating and modifying collaborative processes. As a result, these self-organized entities would manifest emergent behaviors in response to the environment and the tasks to be accomplished. This development is necessary to enable the adoption of new distributed, “network enabled” C2 approaches that have been shown to be more agile (a capability that is a necessary response to the complexity and unpredictability of the battlefield of 2050). An associated major aspect of this battlefield development will be the seamless integration of human and machine decision making. As a result, battle rhythm will increase to the point that, in many instances, humans will no longer be able to be “in the loop,” but will instead need to operate “on the loop.” The difference being that in the former, human decisions are a required step in a process and thus humans are exercising positive control;
while in the later, humans can only observe the behaviors that are taking place (and in some cases the decisions that have been made and the reasons why), but they can only act after the fact or in anticipation of expected behaviors.
Participants expected large-scale self-organization involving humans and softwarecontrolled machines and systems to occur because examples of this behavior, in very limited forms, and at a modest scale, already exist. To a large extent, “proofs of concept” can be seen everywhere. Application-to-application sharing is no longer a new development and we are beginning to see the emergence of collections of collaborating self-synchronizing apps. Learning apps, apps that dynamically adjust to different humans and situations are in use today and people have accepted them as a matter of course. Workshop participants expressed the view that this development was not “optional” given the large number of “decision makers” that will be present on the tactical battlefield of 2050, since, at a minimum, they will need to de-conflict with one another and, overtime, will learn to choose behaviors that create synergies.