In recent years the industries like Automobile, Medical, Space, Communication, Space and Military have realised tremendous benefits originating from discoveries made in the fields of Nanotechnology, Robotics and Artificial Intelligence (NRAI). Advancements in space systems development have been enabled by these fields to their independent contributions, though as technological challenges present themselves, further progress will be achieved through each of these technologies going hand in hand. As researchers work to overcome tomorrow’s commercial, industrial, social and military space challenges, the progressive convergence of these respective fields will make possible the future development of advanced space technology, and ultimately space warfare systems. Due to the interdisciplinary nature of NRAI technologies, advancements in future industrial and space systems will experience an exponential growth cycle similar to that observed in the human genome.
Though there is tremendous potential for advances in civilian fields such as space exploration, communications and engineering through this convergence, such a process would also be the primary driver leading to advanced arms racing and evolved methods of space warfare. The convergence of nanotechnology, robotics, and artificial intelligence relative to space warfare systems as a function of time is outlined below.
In 1965 Moore’s Law charted an exponential growth pattern in the complexity of integrated semiconductor circuits and data storage. The unprecedented explosion of computational potential, and in turn affordability, that Moore accurately predicted drove widespread discoveries in the field of computer science, such as the creation of the internet, complicated algorithms, and early Human Machine Interfacing (HMI).
In 2001 Kurzweil’s Law of Accelerating Returns extended the growth pattern described in Moore’s Law to transcend computers and reach into many other areas of science. Most remarkable is that this scientific and technological growth, which Kurzweil revealed, is not linear but exponential; and it is not limited to just the technology, as humanity accelerates its own potential as well. The way that one technology seems to reach its potential and then suddenly converges with another to become something greater was also observed with the marriage of early genetics research and advanced computer processors.
According to Kurzweil’s Law, this would constitute an example of two technologies having pushed and pulled with each other, engaging in almost evolutionary fashion to become more than just the sum of their parts. The result in this case was the mapping of the genome, leading to improved health care and longer human life expectancy.
Technological possibilities, profound uncertainties, swifter change and convergence
The present concept of Human Machine Interface (HMI) in a network will be revolutionised to Brain Computer Interface (BCI). BCI will accelerate the human factor involved. This can be achieved through computational data analysis method based on architecture of the neuronal connection with in the human brain. BCI will exist parallel with a virtual world combined with a technological ability to create 3-D stereoscopic images direct to the eye, located in inter-pupillary distance of the tech-warrior. Integrating it with communication and data streaming from satellite, UAVs, UGVs etc… in a network centric warfare the tech-warrior may simply switch between various views of the war theatre.
Since the dawn of civilizations, humans have endeavoured to be in control of their environments and surroundings. This quest resulted in many discoveries and inventions, most notably among them are machines. Human used machines as an aid to make one’s life comfortable, effective and efficient and aimed to develop machines capable of working like human beings, if possible. Computer is one of the most important machines, which has not only raised hopes in this regard but has also contributed significantly in every sphere of human endeavour. Human approach to problem solving is one of its kinds. It is based on abstract thought, logic, reasoning and recognising of pattern. Computers and humans are different. A computer is yet to understand all situations and simultaneously adapt to an evolving situations.
Artificial Intelligence (AI): In support of cyber warfare and countless advanced military research programs, the field of Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) has been growing in importance, and this is no more apparent than in the arena of military space systems. In 2015, A.I. touches directly and indirectly upon nearly every advanced system in the space warfare toolkit. The potential inherent to these A.I. systems and the speed of their evolution will increase exponentially, driven by their own ability to learn, become cognitive and not only enhance ‘their’ potential, but the potential of the human war fighter as well. A.I. will enable seamless and real time responses to a broad spectrum of challenges posed at all levels of military operations. Conversely, with the increasing speed of military operations and size of operations supporting data flows, the human element will become increasingly unable to deliver effective response times in this rapidly accelerating information environment.
Cyber warfare: Cyber warfare is a daily threat, as many nations’ individual systems and networks are now targeted by hundreds of thousands, and sometimes millions, of attacks per day. Such remote attacks, not only appear to originate from governments and militaries, but also from mischievous individuals, loosely affiliated international hacking organisations, and non state terrorist organisations. Such a capability is not limited to any specific nation or group, and is a method of attack that requires a constantly evolving capacity to respond to innovative challenges. Both the advanced cyber soldier and non state hacker are now well equipped to deliver compromising attacks against many aspects of space and cyber supported military functions.
As nations that are dependent on space to conduct military operations race to reduce network access points, recruit qualified professionals and identify methods to deter and respond to cyber threats, these rogue attacks are proving increasingly destructive. Furthermore, in 2015, the economic and societal effects of a large scale cyber attack against an industrialised nations’ critical information infrastructure may have the potential to virtually cripple many industrial and governmental functions including those that incorporate commercial and military space systems.
Nanotechnology: Innovations in the field of lithography and multi gate processing, such as double and tri gate transistor will also contribute to dramatic increases in processing speed and efficiency when compared to the traditional and increasingly more archaic silicon chip. Both independently and hand in hand with AI, recent discoveries in the field nanotechnology, specifically carbon nanotubes and nanomaterials, are beginning to radically enhance not only traditional military space systems, but also the entire spectrum of miniaturised military technologies. New nanomaterials with revolutionary abilities will provide thermal protection, structural integrity improvements, and power generation abilities to satellites and other critical space assets. Due to the inherent and unique properties of these materials, widespread application to the structural and electronic components of space systems is inevitable.
Nanoscale applications working alone and in concert with AI will begin to move from the laboratories of the world into the theatres of war. Just as AI systems are now being wholly integrated into military decision making processes such as allowing satellites to deter attacks autonomously, in complimentary fashion, nanotechnology is providing the fabric for military space development.
Artificial intelligence & cyber warfare: AI methodologies are being applied to support decision making at all levels of military operations such as assessment of force readiness, reliability and capability, complex missions planning and integration of data from multiple sources. Research in the field of AI is also addressing the challenges presented by supporting such decision making in rapidly changing environments. The use of such technology opens up endless possibilities in the military and explores AI’s potential applications in military. In 2020, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and cyber warfare systems and their corresponding areas of responsibility relating to military spaces as well as civil society have fully converged. Specific combat operations are now being conducted by human and artificial operators working together in a virtual environment that delivers a real time view of the target area with semi autonomous and autonomous attack options just a blink or a voice; command away. In 2020, A.I. driven systems are supplying consolidated information and refined military options to high level decision makers, who are now unable to decipher and analyse vast data flows alone. The role of the war planner is now found to be most critical during the process of selecting war fighting strategies generated and provided by A.I. systems. The entire sphere of global military operations in 2020 has the potential to be fully interconnected for those with the means and the desire to do so, as successful military operations are decided by this complex network of systems. In the years leading up to 2020, efforts to reduce network access points into military and national security systems and to centralise individual architectures have proven to be a critical decision for many advanced military powers.
Threats posed to computer networks that support critical military satellite systems have become increasingly complex – and are occurring more frequently. Specifically, attacks targeting ground stations and command centres threaten military connectivity and the seamlessness of the Command, Control, Communications, Computer, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance systems (C4ISR). Such attacks have the potential to effectively induce a systems blackout. A military’s ability to adequately secure C4ISR systems and protect ground segments ensures success not only in space, but in all dimensions of warfare. If an attack were to succeed against the C4ISR supporting space systems, a self healing capability or Self Regenerative Systems (SRS) solution must be executed immediately in order to repair and secure the affected network. Such abilities to survive a debilitating space systems attack will be made possible by advances in AI.
Nanotechnology: It will be nearly impossible to find nanotechnology detractors as universal applications are benefiting industries located around the world in this multidisciplinary field. Up to this point, nanotechnology discoveries that improved military space capabilities had appeared mostly in the form of new rnaterials that enhanced solar power generation, asset survivability, and structural integrity. By 2020 advances in nanotechnology have led to electrically charged based devices being replaced by non charges based devices that are non volatile. A manifested example of this leap ahead will incorporate flexible Thin Film Transistors (TFTs) that will revolutionise the way in which a human subject interacts with one’s computer and related accessories. Imagine, for example, the features and capacity of a personal computer, cellular phone and Global Positioning Systern (GPS) integrated into a simple handheld device that is similar in size to a credit card. Garments would contain TFTs that would generate solar energy during the day and convert heat generated by the body during the evening. For soldiers on the battlefield, the benefits would include increased mobility. The next level: Molecular Nanotechnology (MNT) promises to revolutionise countless products by engineering mechanical and electronic systems including advanced materials, at the molecular scale. Such a capacity for discovery will touch upon every aspect of military technology in the realm of military space systems. This fusion process, executed primarily by A.I.
The future of Nanotechnology/Robotics/Artificial Intelligence (NRAI): As the arrival of strong A.I. draws ever closer, along with it will come the realisation that computing on such a scale and breadth is beyond our human ability to maintain and monitor even with the assistance of the machines themselves. We will begin to turn over the keys to the IT department to the computer within it, as non–biological intelligence has the ability to drive its own evolutionary cycle, with human oversight existing from afar, at specific points in the data stream.
This is the lift-off for military space systems, and our final approach towards a victory over the Turing Test. In the years leading up to 2020, we have witnessed the devices for human involvement in net centric warfare leave the point, and click mouse behind in exchange for voice command and evolved human computer collaboration, presented under the banner of HMIs.
ln 2025 technology takes a step further towards Brain Computer Interfaces (BCI), also known as Brain Machine Interface (BMI) Working, but limited, examples of this technology, such as the Berlin Brain Computer Interface (BBCI) have exhibited proven results as far back as 2002. BCIs will empower and accelerate the remaining human factors involved in seamless military operations across the five theatres of combat, land, sea, air, space, and cyber space through advances in the field of neural networks, a computational data analysis method based on the architecture of the neuronal connections within the human brain. Such a system will allow human integration into the data stream and in time will not only allow interaction via one single human function, but instead BCIs will be comprised central nervous system connections, alpha and beta brainwaves, eye movement, and voice and facial recognition. The first manifestations of this technology have been dual use and have led to tremendous improvements in freedom and mobility for the severely disabled.
Additional limited civil applications are mostly in the area of video gaming. Military and national security applications of BCI in 2025 include the control of logistics, supply chains, terrestrial based weapons systems, unmanned aerial platforms, and space systems. By effectively and irreversibly fused Human Intelligence (HI) and A.I. Such a system could ultimately combine with real time, secure uplink and downlink data transmissions to a satellite in space which, in turn, could direct a small scale Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) or Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) utilising advanced Nano Electro Mechanical Systems (NEMS) and Nano Opto Electro Mechanical Systems (NOEMS) derived sensors and optics delivering, for example, streaming video of the battlefield. The truly transformational role of these merged technologies will be difficult to imagine until we witness the war fighter speak, think or signal the fire command, and an enemy target is neutralised.
On a much smaller physical scale, military robotics programs have been enhanced by progress in the field of Molecular Nanotechnology (MNT), resulting in devices such as molecular motors. This development has spawned numerous concepts that are now in the research and development programs of all leading NRAI nations, such as India, China, Russia, and Japan. These robotics concepts, with molecular scale subsystems measuring less than a few centimetres, might range from miniature flying vehicles with numerous applications to ground based robots, both of which, with the help of A.I. can collectively combine their effects in a swarm like fashion.
Advancements in the field of MEMS driven micro thrusters would provide propulsion as reductions in the size of computer systems would allow for control of the devices, either autonomously or remotely through a ground segment. Miniaturised Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs) acting alone or in swarms, will soon mimic biological entities such as insects through MNT processes and be used in Military intelligence related operations as will also be the case with aerial systems. Such systems by 2025 will be available for deployment as Military of the Shelf (MOT) systerns and as Commercial of the Self (COT) systems. The role of ground segments in 2025 will continue to remain a critical area of military and national security operations. In corresponding fashion with the steps forward witnessed by many other areas of military space systems, the ground segment is reaping the benefits of NRAI as well. The vulnerabilities that weakened this bridge between earth and space based military functions have been significantly reduced, thanks to improvements in the areas of: miniaturisation, manoeuvrability, survivability and redundancy.
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