National Security Goals for NBIC

This conference panel identified seven goals for NBIC augmentation of national security, all of which require the close integration of several of the nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology, and cognition fields of endeavor. The seven goals, listed below, are sufficiently diverse that there is no common strategy beyond the need for interdisciplinary integration. The net result of accomplishing the stated goals would reduce the likelihood of war by providing an overwhelming U.S. technological advantage, would significantly reduce the cost of training military manpower, and would significantly reduce the number of lives lost during conflict.

i) Data linkage, threat anticipation, and readiness. Miniaturized, affordable sensor suites will provide information from previously inaccessible areas; high-speed processing will convert the data into information; and wide-bandwidth communication pipelines with digital security will distribute information rather than data to all who need it.

ii) Uninhabited combat vehicles. Automation technology (including miniaturization of sensing, augmented computation and memory, and augmented software capability) will enable us to replace pilots, either fully autonomously or with pilot-in-the-loop, in many dangerous warfighting missions. The uninhabited air vehicle will have an artificial brain that can emulate a skillful fighter pilot in the performance of its missions. Tasks such as take-off, navigation, situation awareness, target identification, and safe return landing will be done autonomously, with the possible exception of circumstances requiring strategic or firing decisions. Without the human g-force constraint and the weight of human physical support equipment (oxygen, ejection system, armor, etc.), the planes will be more maneuverable. Tanks, submarines, and other combat vehicles will experience similar benefits.

iii) Warfighter education and training. A partnership between nanotechnology and information technology holds the promise for relatively inexpensive, high-performance teaching aids. One can envision a virtual-reality teaching environment that is tailored to the individual's learning modes, utilizes contexts stimulating to that individual, and reduces any embarrassment over mistakes. The information exchange with the computer can be fully interactive, involving speech, vision, and motion. Nanodevices will be essential to store the variety of necessary information and to process that information in the millisecond time frames necessary for realtime interaction.

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