Is AR a Weapon?

via Tim Marler

Microsoft’s strengthening stance as a “defense contractor” has spurred discussions about the military use of AR, and by extension commercial technologies initially developed and used in the civilian arena.  However, anything can arguably be militarized, even a pen or coffee mug.  The more relevant consideration with respect to emerging military capabilities is not just AR alone, but the combination of AR with other technologies like AI, as well as the application or use of the underlying technology.

Often, discussions and even management of emerging technology focus on a single sector or capability.  However, with regards to technical capabilities, public perception, and governing policy, it is critical to consider the synergy created by coupling various different (but related) technologies.

Furthermore, VR in general, which is arguably a superset of AR, was for a long time a technology searching for an application.  Now that size and cost have decreased, and accessibility has increased, use and mention in the headlines has burgeoned.  The same is true of AI and big data in that they have seen accelerated development, deployment, and use in the last decade.

The United State has long leveraged technology to strengthen its military.  As capabilities and dissemination of information advance at an increasing rate, it will be important to consider and discuss how technologies integrate and how they are actually used.  Absence of discussions with this kind of framing risks demonizing technology that can be extremely helpful across many different sectors.

Share your thoughts