The massive use of autonomous drones equipped with artificial intelligence will change the nature of armed struggle and the methods of warfare. At the same time, super-expensive manned combat aircraft will become a thing of the past. Vasily Kashin, director of the HSE Center for Comprehensive European and International Studies, thinks so.
“UAVs are one of the crucial technologies of modern warfare. Autonomous systems will change the entire economy. I think that entire classes of weapons will gradually become a thing of the past,” Vasily Kashin said at a round table meeting that was recently held online at the Valdai International Discussion Club.
The $100 million modern fighter “has a lot of redundant capabilities,” the analyst said. It is terrible to lose him, even without taking into account the life of a pilot, who is also expensive to train.
According to the expert, a drone equipped with digital “brains” and capable of operating autonomously at a great distance is much cheaper. At the same time, he will be able to independently find targets, identify them, and choose the type of weapon to destroy them.
“The main element of value will be the intellectual property that is embedded in them. It can be played an infinite number of times. A primitive technical platform with good software that is mass-produced could be a step into the future. This will change the attitudes (of how the state prepares for war). We can partly return to the era of super-mass production and full mobilization of the economy, as it was in the late 19th and early 20th centuries,” Vasily Kashin believes.
In his opinion, “traditional remotely controlled unmanned vehicles are not the main thing.” “We have to think about the next stage, which is related to the use of autonomous systems. Which the operator does not control directly from his workplace, wherever it is located, which are able to make decisions independently, and where a wide artificial intelligence is used,” the expert said.
According to him, today in the field of autonomous unmanned systems technology, there is a struggle between China and the United States, which are in the lead. But Russia also has some achievements and a chance to fill a niche.
At the same time, according to him, unmanned systems today or tomorrow are capable of changing the nature of the participation of states in armed conflicts. With the increase in the autonomy of unmanned systems, many opportunities appear, including for participation in conflicts in different regions of the world. This applies, for example, to the export of military drones, when, by agreement with the buyer, the supplier country will be able to remotely use drones that will be controlled by its military personnel from its own territory. The expert called it “remote participation in the war.”
This applies, for example, to more autonomous systems, “which you can supply, but retain some control over them, the software code.” In this case, the possibilities of waging “wars by proxy increase many times over.”
“There will come a time when you will not need to send any advisers, you will not need to resort to the services of PMCs (private military companies. – MK). You simply provide your partner with this technique, which you control, with the help of your own personnel, which are completely safe. These are unique opportunities for the future. I think we will have all this relatively soon. We need to prepare for this,” the expert concluded.