Hybrid Cognitive Capabilities in EDGE Operations
Authors: Arne Norlander
Abstract: Contemporary and future defense and security operations are increasingly time-critical, resource-critical and safety-critical, requiring vigilance, awareness and determination. Commanders and operators frequently encounter uncertainty, risk, time-criticality and resource shortages while mastering the challenges of distributed, complex systems, strong functional coupling and interdependencies. Operational characteristics are highly dynamic and non-linear; Minor events, decisions and actions may have serious and irreversible consequences for the entire mission. This requires adaptive and versatile principles and concepts for Emergent, Dynamic, Global and Evolutionary operations (EDGE) operations, along with high-performance human and technological (i.e. hybrid) cognitive capabilities.Additionally, operating in a hazardous operational environment requires comprehensive operational awareness - shaped, supported and utilized by human and machine agents, in joint capabilities. Joint human-machine agents constitute hybrid capability components, able to accurately and rapidly sense, perceive and interpret relevant events and circumstances in order to sustain and improve decision-making and action, enabling every commander and operator to develop a wide-ranging appreciation of the situation. This paper is a précis of a balanced analysis, development, evaluation and assessment of hybrid multi-domain scenarios where the EDGE operational approach is superior regarding managing and maintaining operational availability, versatility and efficiency. A number of strategic capability elements will be identified and described. The capability elements will be incorporated in a dynamic capability architecture, operationalized into measurable evaluation criteria, enabling hybrid cognitive capabilities to accurately and rapidly perceive and interpret mission-relevant events and circumstances, in order to provide the context, insight and foresight required for effective decision-making and action. Complex Information and Cyber Operations are of particular concern; while some operational tasks necessarily would employ a human component, other tasks can only be accomplished through non-human intelligent entities, acting autonomously within the socio-technical enterprise. The Cognitive Systems body of research was utilized to overcome the duality of traditional human-machine research, focusing on better understanding what people actually do with technology rather than what functions belong to the machine and what functions belong to the human. The Complex Adaptive Systems (CAS) body of research contributed with characteristics of self-learning, emergence, and evolution among the entities of the complex system, demonstrating heterogeneous and adaptive behavior. According to the body of research for Autonomous Adaptive Agents (AAAs), an agent is also viewed as a team member, meaning it is able to autonomously complement human decision-making when executing its tasks. Building cognitive systems and capabilities requires a mental shift – striving towards an Agility mindset that permeates security and defense policy, legal and financial frameworks, science and technology agendas, strategy and operations. Adopting an EDGE perspective requires matching internal operations with the degree of turmoil of the external environment, a principle known as requisite variety. EDGE defines system structures across domain boundaries and operational dimensions through an intersection of fundamental operational dynamics: Physical, Information Cognitive and Networks, allowing actions in one domain, ex. cognitive, to achieve an operational effect in another, ex. physical. A conflict situation within or with operational reach into the information and cognitive dimensions can rapidly escalate or change character in fractions of a second, and this requires adequate response times. This is beyond the ability of humans, hence requiring the use of high-performance, automated cognitive capabilities comprised of multiple, distributed human-autonomy systems. Furthermore, without the appropriate distribution of information, and the necessary decision rights to the AAAs that match their required level of autonomy, the decisions and actions needed for success in MDO will not be achieved in a timely manner.We propose formulating a future-oriented Essence of Joint Cognitive Systems Command, with equal relevance and applicability on human operators and artificial agents. Employing the Cognitive Systems, CAS and AAA paradigms for MDO permits the integration of all capability elements into an adaptive distributed system that can achieve a mission safely and efficiently. This Essence of Command is domain agnostic and applicable for human as well as non-human agents, although the dynamics are different.
Keywords: Cognitive Systems Command Control Capabilities Human-Machine Teaming
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