When government research and development is outpaced by private-sector investment, products with potential military applications are likely to enter the global market more quickly.
That was one of the takeaways from a recent talk by Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work on the Pentagon’s new strategy, called the Third Offset, to double down the U.S. military’s technological edge in part by investing in human-technology teaming for war fighting.
“R&D is going down in the public sector, but up in the private sector,” Work said on Monday during a conference sponsored by The Atlantic Council. “Most things that have to do with AI [artificial intelligence] and autonomy are happening in the private sector. And so all competitors are going to have access to it, it’s going to be a world of fast-followers. You’re going to have an instance where you’re not going to have a lasting advantage.”
For that reason, he said, it’s to the country’s advantage to be nimble and agile, which is where the new strategy comes into play.
“We’re already in a situation — A2AD? Anti-access area denial is shorthand for network-on-network warfare,” he said. “Whenever you hear the Department of Defense talking about ant-access area of denial, it’s when your battlefield network collides against another one.”
Both sides’ networks can fire guided munitions and have the technology to know what happens on the battlefiel, Work said. Generally, everything that can be seen can be hit, he said.
“And what the Third Offset says is how do you put learning machines, AI, and autonomous systems into the network to allow your network to prevail over an enemy’s network,” he said.