The Canadian Armed Forces have had a difficult time developing policy and capability in the the area of semi-autonomous - never mind autonomous capabilities. This lack of policy and capability is all the more amazing given Canada's technological capabilities,
its vast geography (land, sea, air & space), heightened military tensions in areas of critical strategic interest to Canada and the decisive military requirement for wide ranging drone defence capabilities in space, air, land, maritime and cyberspace environments.
As intelligent systems costs plunge and capabilities rise swarm approaches represent a sea change in all aspects of military planning and execution.
Despite obvious ethical and proliferation concerns, autonomous robotic weapons systems are seeping into militaries around the world. Automation in warfare is not a new phenomena.
We have seen however recent accelerated progress in AI capabilities that call for a rethinking of defence policy assumptions. The obvious acceleration of intelligent information systems and the capacity of individuals and small groups as well as nation states
to make use of those capabilities raises disturbing questions about the immediate and long term future of human civilization.
This strongly argues for a two pronged approach to intelligent weapons systems:
- An international policy thrust to encourage international regulation of autonomous intelligent weapons systems
- A defence policy that accelerates full integration of intelligent systems into all existing defence platforms and a rethink of defence doctrine and capabilities
After an unbelievable history of foot dragging and foggy thinking on semi-autonomous and autonomous vehicles, Canada needs to accelerate the building of an in-depth, robust intelligent defence capability or face rapid decline in its defence
capability and ability to contribute to the collective defence of the western alliance. This article "Don’t Panic! What to know about Canada’s use of drones" by
@StephanieCarvin lends some perspective.
I recommend the reading of this June 2016 report by the US Defense Science Board (DSB) Summer Study on Autonomy and I refer you to my
website CascadiaPrime Cognition for a fuller appreciation of artificial intelligence developments. More important than the technology (AI & Autonomy) is the
operational and organizational constructs, and the training of the force and the exercise of the force to be
ready to employ the new capabilities.
When, and if, I hear an articulate Canadian thrust on a policy to encourage international regulation of autonomous intelligent weapons systems it will be listed here.