Greetings from the Australian National University in Canberra, where Dr Albert Palazzo, Director of War Studies at the Australian Army Research Centre is speaking on "Transition Point: Embracing the 4th Age of War". He started with 3D printing (additive manufacturing), which is already being used to produce replacement parts on-board US warships at sea. A more amusing example was the US Army experimenting with 3D printed pizza drone delivered to the battlefield.
Dr Palazzo then drew a contrast between a traditional trade route map of the world and a data transmission map. Current main routes are trans-Atlantic and he suggests this is where wealth will be created.
Dr Palazzo suggested that we don't know who makes the rules about trans-national data communications. This clearly is not true. There was a well established international governance framework for telecommunications before the Internet. This was supplemented with new bodies and rules with the advent of the Internet. I helped establish this structure and stumbled into one of the meetings of the people who ran the Internet one day in Stockholm.
Dr Palazzo then claimed that AI can't come up with quirky original actions and may result in predictability on the battlefield. My experience is that AI comes up with anticipated results, as it is not possible for the human, even the one who programmed it, to anticipate how the data will interact.
One area not addressed by Dr Palazzo were information warfare and irregular warfare techniques enhanced by the Internet. Examples of this are the use of sophisticated social media by terrorists, high quality videos by the Russian military in Syria and "Little green men" deployed in the Ukraine. Western military forces have had difficulty in countering these due in part to a lack of suitable training and doctrine.
That these new forms of warfare are now here was brought home to me when ANU started offering a course in "Offensive Cyber Security Operations" (COMP3702).
One point I agreed with Dr Palazzo on was that the barriers to entry with some new technologies is low. This just needs engineers.
Sam Worthington, is an engineer and just set up Rapid 3d Printing.