(Editor’s Note: Mad Scientist Laboratory is pleased to present the following guest blog post by Mr. Howard R. Simkin, envisioning Army recruiting, Mid-Twenty First Century. The Army must anticipate how (or if) it will recruit augmented humans into the Future Force. This post was originally submitted in response to our Soldier 2050 Call for Ideas, addressing how humanity’s next evolutionary leap, its co-evolution with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and becoming part of the network, will change the character of war. This is the theme for our Bio Convergence and Soldier 2050 Conference — learn more about this event at the bottom of this post.)
///////////Personal Blog, Master Sergeant Grant Robertson, Recruiting District Seven…
This morning I had an in-person interview with a prospective recruit – Roberto Preciado. For the benefit of those of you who haven’t had one yet, I offer the following.
Roberto arrived punctually, a good sign. Before he entered I said, “RECOM, activate full spectrum recording and analysis.”
The disembodied voice of the Recruiting Command AI replied, “Roger.”
“Let him in.” I stood up to better assess him as he stepped through the doorway. He had dark hair and eyes, and was of slender build and medium height. My corneal implants allowed me to assess his general medical condition. He was in surprisingly good shape for his age.
We went through the usual formalities before getting down to business.
Roberto sat down gingerly, “I..um..I wanted to check out becoming part of Special Operations.”
“You came to the right place,” I replied. “So why Special Operations?”
“My uncle was in Special Operations during ‘the Big One.’ Next to my dad, he is the coolest person I ever met, so…” He searched for words, “So I decided to come and check it out.”
“Okay.” I began. “This isn’t your uncle’s Special Operations. Since the Big One, we’ve made quite a few” – I caught myself before saying changes – “upgrades.” I paused, “Roberto, before we take the enhanced reality tour, I’d like to know what augments you have had – if any.”
“Sure.” Roberto paused for a moment,“ Let’s see… I’ve got Daystrom Model 40B ER corneal implants, a Neuralink BCI jack, and a Samsung cognitive enhancement implant. That’s about it.”
“That’s fine. So you have no problems with augmentation then?”
“Don’t call me sir. I work for a living. Call me Sergeant.” I replied.
“Yes sir…I mean Sergeant.” Roberto replied somewhat nervously.
I smiled reassuringly, “Let’s continue with the most important question…do you like working with people?”
My corneal implants registered a quick flash of green light. RECOM had monitored Roberto’s metabio signature for signs of deception and found none.
“In spite of all the gadgets we work with, we still believe that people are more important than hardware. If you don’t like working with people, then you are not who we want.” I said in a matter-of-fact tone. “So,” I continued, “What are your interests?”
“I like solving problems.” Roberto shifted in his chair slightly, “I’m pretty good in a hackathon, I can handle a 4D Printer, I like to tinker with bots, and I got all A’s in machine learning.”
“So you like working with AI?”
“Yeah,” Roberto grinned, “It is way cool.”
Reassured by another green flash, I asked, “How about sports?”
“Virtual or physical?”
“I like virtual rock climbing and…do MMORPGs count as a sport?”
[i.e., Massively Multi-Player Online Role Playing Games]
“Depends on the MMORPG.” I replied stifling a smile.
Roberto paused before answering, “‘Call of Duty – The Big One, Special Operations Edition’ and ‘Zombie Apocalypse’.”
I was beginning to like this kid. Apparently, so was RECOM who flashed another green light. “I’d say they count.” I nodded. “So how about physical sports?”
“I was on the track team and I still like distance running.” He smiled self-consciously, “Got a letter in track.” He thought for a moment, “I played a lot of soccer when I was a kid but never got really good at it. I think it was because when I was younger, I was really small.”
I nodded politely. “So Roberto, besides hackathons have you ever hacked devices?”
He looked a bit startled, then uncomfortable. “Well…I…yes…I have.”
“Don’t worry, this isn’t an interrogation.” I leaned forward a bit, “Son, we want people who can think, who can adapt commercial off-the-shelf technology for use in the field. We need innovative thinkers.”
“So what devices did you hack?”
“I think the first one I hacked was a service bot when I was ten. You know, the house cleaning types?”
I nodded slightly.
“Well,” Roberto continued, “my parents wanted me to clean my room every day. They said it built character.” He smiled, “I guess they were right but I didn’t see it that way. So I hacked our service bot to clean my room whenever my parents were out of the house.”
“Did it work?”
“For a while. But you know smart houses…our AI realized that something wasn’t right and blabbed.” He shook his head, “Boy, did I get in trouble.”
“Was that the end of it?” I asked.
“For a while, then I figured out how to hack the whole house…AI and all. Machine learning is a nice skill to have.” He reflected for a moment, “It taught me a lesson – before you hack, you have to know the whole system.”
“Yes.” I nodded in agreement, “That’s a good point.”
My corneal implants flashed, “Probability of successful training completion – 95%.”
“So are you ready to jack into our training simulation? It’s not quite as good as what you are used to at home, but it will give you an idea of what your training will be like.”
“Yes sir…I mean Sergeant.”
For the next ten minutes, I guided him through a compressed experience of special operations training.
When we finished I asked, “So what do you think? Can you handle it?”
Roberto replied without hesitation, “Where do I sign?”
I smiled at the idea of signing a document. “Just read through the enlistment contract. If you agree, just place your right hand on the bio-scanner and look into the retinal scanner.”
Roberto slowly scrolled through the document while I sat quietly by. A few minutes later, the enlistment was complete.
That done, we set the date for his swearing in, as well as who would attend the ceremony. He departed, smiling. As for me, it was the beginning of a day without equal…but more of that in my next blog. ///////////End Personal Blog, Master Sergeant Grant Robertson, Recruiting District Seven
If you enjoyed this post, please note that Headquarters, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) is co-sponsoring the Bio Convergence and Soldier 2050 Conference with SRI International at Menlo Park, California, on 08-09 March 2018. This conference will be live-streamed; click here to watch the proceedings, starting at 0845 PST / 1145 EST on 08 March 2018. Stay tuned to the Mad Scientist Laboratory for more information regarding this conference.
Howard R. Simkin is a Senior Concept Developer in the DCS, G-9 Concepts, Experimentation and Analysis Directorate, U.S. Army Special Operations Command. He has over 40 years of combined military, law enforcement, defense contractor, and government experience. He is a retired Special Forces officer with a wide variety of special operations experience.