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People Will Remain Key Decision-Makers

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Army Reserve
Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Technology will continue to advance and provide new ways to help leaders make decisions, but 30 years from now it will still be the mutual trust and confidence between humans that will ensure responsible command, said Maj. Gen. John S. Kem, commandant of the U.S. Army War College.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are enabling technologies that are going to help soldiers in the decision-making process, he said, “but inevitably, even at the speed of many things, the decision still has a civil-military component which is what are we doing and why. What are we asked to do overseas, and what are the moral and ethical implications of all that?” Kem said in remarks at Learning 2050, a panel discussion during the recent Mad Scientist conference hosted by the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command and Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

Even the best programs enabling collaboration between resident and nonresident students don’t address the challenge inherent in military decision-making of instilling the mutual trust and confidence that comes with being face to face, Kem said.

The issue is being “wrestled with” at the War College, and Kem said the same discussion is taking place at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., and among planners in the TRADOC education system.

“At the Army War College, we think about national defense and military science and responsible command. All of those can benefit from what we’re talking about between now and 2050, but in the end, there is still a component of responsible command. Even decentralized, at some point a group is doing something and who is responsible for what will become kind of the hard part,” Kem said.

TRADOC’s Mad Scientist was launched in 2016 to explore with premier academic institutions the future of land operations.