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Army Looking to Create a Network of Feeling “Sentient” Soldiers

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Army Looking to Create a Network of Feeling “Sentient” Soldiers
A leading scientist has generated a wave of interest by commenting that one day “sentient data”, which can feel and perceive things, might be able to protect soldiers and their networks.

The comment was made by Thomas Greco, director of intelligence, G-2, US Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), at a recent roundtable event about findings from the TRADOC. The 2015 Mad Scientist Conference was held at Georgetown University and was attended by many top scientists and academic, industry and government thinkers.

According to the official website for the US Army, the conference was centered on how in 2025 and beyond, existing technologies will be used in new ways and how new technology will become game changers.

Greco spoke of the likelihood that in the future, there could be sensors implanted in people that would be capable of communicating and transmitting data to sensors implanting in other people and in systems.

The scientist related the technology onto the battlefield, saying that soldiers would be able to carry out various functions without having to make conscious interaction.

Making Life Easier for Soldiers

Greco referred to the data as being sentient as it would know not to transfer the information to an enemy. If an adversary hacked into the data, the technology would know not to transmit the data to the hacker. As the data would be sentient, the network administrator would always know the status of the data as it would be able to communicate to the system and to individuals.

According to Greco the sentient data, similar to how a computer can teach someone how to become a great chess player, would also be capable of enhancing a soldier’s ability to learn.

The coupling of sentient data with human sensors, could, said Greco, result in “precision in knowing the Internet of things” and thereby reduce ambiguity.

The scientist referred to ambiguity as a “kind of lubricant in personal relationships” and posed the question to fellow attendees at the event: “What happens when you have total knowledge and accountability?”

According to Gary Phillips, senior intelligence advisor of TRADOC G-2 Intelligent Support Activity, sentient data would come in packages with their own operating systems. This would effectively blur the distinction between data and operating systems that exist today.

What’s more, the sentient data would make life easier for soldiers by reducing system crashes. Unlike the hordes of data that currently exists which can create cognitive overload, knowing the exact amount of information a soldier would require in order to make decisions, added Phillips.

us army

Cognitive Science

The conference focused on the role cognitive science plays on the battlefield. Phillips continued that one day studies of the brain could optimize a soldier’s performance.

Col. Christopher Cross, chief of the Science and Technology Division at TRADOC spoke of how a greater number of studies related to the brain are required.

In 2014, the US military was involved in a project centered on stimulating personnel with mild electrical current as a means of improving performance.

Pioneering experiments were carried out at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. They involved shocking the brain with mild electrical currents in an attempt to quicken learning and improve attention amongst military personnel.

As the BBC wrote, in theory, such processes might be used to speed all kinds of training, “in everything from the piloting of a plane to marksmanship” (2).

However, with the arrival of new and pioneering technologies, the days of experimenting with which were once controversial brain-zapping treatments for the mentally ill, to improve performance on the battlefield, could be replaced by highly sophisticated sentient data and the ability to feel and perceive things in order to help protect soldiers.

References & Image Credits:
(1) Army
(2) BBC

Originally published on

United States Military

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