Myths of automation and their implications for military procurement

How emerging technology is shaping the future of intelligence.How emerging technology is shaping the future of intelligence.

Several mythical beliefs surround military automation, including the belief that automation reduces manpower needs, that it requires less training for operators, and that it reduces errors. The unbridled enthusiasm for automation exhibited by some technologists – and, consequently, by some technology acquisition programs – extends to claims that computers will achieve and even surpass human-like reasoning capabilities. Such attitudes must be balanced by a recognition that automation’s reality rarely matches its promise. When automation is introduced, human operators must assume the additional tasks of monitoring and coordinating with the technology. When automation “takes over,” human operators – instead of having fewer things to do – have new things to do. Automation requires that operators be trained to high proficiency. Even the most well-intentioned systems trigger new problems, different kinds of problems, and unanticipated problems. Procurement processes for automated military technology could be improved by awareness of, and efforts to escape from, the mythical beliefs that surround military automation.


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