November 09, 2015

Centaur Army: Bob Work, Robotics & The Third Offset Strategy

By Paul Scharre

Source: Breaking Defense

Journalist(s) Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.

We’ve talked a lot in these pages about drones and robotsnetworks and swarms. But there’s new way of looking at these weapons that Bob Work made clear is at the heart of the Defense Department’s high-tech “Third Offset Strategy.” It’s an approach that relies not just on technology but on the one American advantage China can’t simply copy or steal: our people. Deputy Secretary Work called it “human-machine teaming.” The chess world, which in many ways invented the idea, calls it a “centaur.”

“In 1997 [world chess champion] Garry Kasparov was beaten by a computer, Deep Blue. Everybody thought that was a big deal,” Work said Saturday at the Reagan National Defense Forum in California. “Well, what was a bigger deal was in 2005. Two amateur chess players using three PCs, personal computers, won a chess tournament, $20,000, against a field of supercomputers and grandmasters.”

That event — described by Kasparov himself here — tested “centaur chess,” in which human chess-players use chess software as an advisor, but the human makes the final decision about what move to take. There’s an obvious appeal here for the military, which is naturally uneasy about letting robots decide to use lethal force. Then there’s the potential for human and machine to be far more effective together than either would be alone. (A favorite book of Work’s on this topic is The Second Machine Age).

Read the full article at Breaking Defense.

  • Paul Scharre

    Senior Fellow and Director, Technology and National Security Program

    Paul Scharre is a Senior Fellow and Director of the Technology and National Security Program at the Center for a New American Security. He is author of the forthcoming book, A...