May 06, 2014

#CreativeDisruption Survey 3 Results

By Ben FitzGerald and Michael Horowitz

Thanks to everyone who participated in this survey and previous surveys. We’re extremely happy with the level of participation and the insights you have shared with us. As before, we have visualized the findings. Please find the results and some key takeaway points below.

FutureDefenseSurvey3_results_2.jpg 

1. Large majorities of survey respondents believe that a major power will develop and deploy a fully autonomous weapons system by 2030, use a directed energy weapon in combat, and use a UAV to shoot down a manned fighter or bomber. Yet respondents seemed much less confident that non-state actors or even minor powers would do any of these things. This suggests that respondents believe there will be some limits to the diffusion of military technology to minor powers and non-state actors in the information age.

2. Respondents were much more likely to think that cyber technology will be important for defending against attacks and network infrastructure than for offensive operations, as a new element in combined arms warfare, or for defending against kinetic attacks. This suggests a less expansive, though still incredibly consequential, role for cyber technology between now and 2030.

3. The technologies that respondents believe are most likely to be the subject of cutbacks on the part of major national militaries are manned fighters and bombers. This suggests that the spread of military robotics into core naval and ground arenas may be slower than in the air. These findings are also at odds with current budget priorities.

4. Respondents continue to see a trend of ongoing growth for commercial technologies and businesses in defense technology and capability.

5. Changes to the regulatory environment and reform seem unlikely with even an existential military threat not suggesting a significant probability of reform. Similarly, respondents thought that existing regulations are neither detrimental or significantly advantageous suggesting a lack of momentum for change. 

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