We believe that our fifth-generation edge will be the cumulative effects of many small and fleeting effects arising from the combination of our forces, and those of our partners, across multiple domains rather than any single vector.
Australia’s competitive advantage will come from combining the innate strengths of our people with our Air Force’s unique attributes. Our small Air Force is comprised of high-quality people and sophisticated technology. Our fifth-generation edge will come from combining our human cognitive creativity and sophisticated technology with agility: producing joint effects with precision at high tempo. Augmented intelligence will be a central element of Air Force’s shift to a force in which we harness the best of our people and technology to meet future challenges.
The Air Force’s future has four principal challenges.
Firstly, war will remain by nature a clash of human wills; human direction and control will remain essential to ensure societal ethical, legal, and moral values are observed. Secondly, warfare’s tempo will accelerate as information and information technologies create new operational domains and enable machines to perform tasks that have been the sole preserve of humans. Thirdly, small advantages will be decisive as the proliferation of advanced military equipment and sophisticated commercial technologies erode the Air Force’s traditional advantages. Finally, the Air Force will confront constant competition in which advantages will be fleeting as small asymmetries are created and exploited, and the lines between operational domains and states of competition are blurred.
Augmented intelligence: a human edge in the Information Age
In responding to this challenge, the Air Force believes that humans cannot cope with the deluge of data or respond to events happening at speeds and in domains beyond human comprehension. However, machines appear as yet unable to define intent and purpose, imagine the alternative futures needed to develop effective strategies, or be held legally and morally accountable. Combinations of the two are necessary to cope with the complexity and speed of future competition and maximise the Air Force’s ability to create, exploit, and adapt to asymmetries.
Accordingly, we will seek to develop augmented intelligence that combines the strengths of humans and machines to create a human edge in the Information Age. Augmented intelligence is the Air Force’s way of leveraging our attributes as a small force equipped with sophisticated technology operated by high-quality people. Our people come from a society that values individual creativity and flexibility and have an ability to make decisions under ambiguity.
Augmented intelligence is how we will seek to achieve this and shift from being a force that uses people to operate machines and cooperate with other people, to one in which people and machines operate together, and enhance each other.
Augmented intelligence builds on the Air Force Strategy 2017-27 by providing a concept to operationalise the Air Force’s potential in a manner that best leverages its comparative advantages in future competition.
Augmented intelligence is how the Air Force will foster the creativity and agility to constantly and continuously adapt to asymmetries, create transient advantages, and impose multiple dilemmas which cumulatively disrupt competitors’ cohesion.
Four augmented intelligence lines of effort have been identified to explore the edges of a fifth-generation force to create, accelerate, and exploit opportunities for advantage.
Read more from the Deputy Chief of the Air Force:
Exploring and exploiting our fifth-generation edges - Deputy Chief of Air Force
At the Edge: augmented intelligence