August 30, 2005
Cooperative multiplatform warfare
What exactly is an 'information society' and do we want to live in one? The European Commission has published a new plan, called i2010 for 'the completion of a Single European Information Space'. The Commission proposes an 80% increase in funding for ICT research focused on areas where Europe has recognised strengths: nanoelectronics, embedded systems, communications, and 'emerging areas such as web-services and cognitive systems'. Now you probably knew, but I did not, that Europe is a leader in cognitive systems. To be frank, I had no idea what they are, or do. So I checked them out. They are 'artificial systems that can interpret data arising from real-world events and processes (mainly in the form of data-streams from sensors of all types and in particular from visual and/or audio sources); acquire situated knowledge of their environment; act, make or suggest decisions and communicate with people on human terms, thereby support them in performing complex tasks'. Sounds straightforward enough. But what might those 'complex tasks' be? A helpful collection of examples is to be found at the website of COGIS 06 , a watering hole of the cognitive systems crowd. To judge by the list of special sessions, an 'information society' will be a warlike one. The first topic on the list concerns 'cooperative multiplatform warfare', a condition that will feature 'the human control of multiple unmanned aerial vehicles in collaborative missions'. Until, that is, they run amok. The Commission does say that social aspects of ICT are important in delivering public value. But it's not easy to judge from the budget breakdown how research spending on 'public value' compares with that on cooperative multiplatform warfare. Will someone from the Commission enlighten me, and thereby dispel my nagging doubts?
Posted by John Thackara at August 30, 2005 08:00 AM