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deftech.exploration: stories written by readers!

Looking into the future means becoming aware of the potential consequences of acting or failing to act. In an environment like defence, anticipation is crucial, but how to interact, raise awareness and get the various stakeholders to take responsibility is far from straightforward. To help meet this challenge, armasuisse Science and Technology is proposing an innovative series on strategic technological issues.

24.04.2023 | Dr. Quentin Ladetto, Department Research Management and Operations Research, Science and Technology competence sector

Graphic representation of a hypothetical meeting between a human soldier and an autonomous system.

Guaranteeing the content of a forecasting system is an important stage, but so too is sharing it with the various participants! Making the learning process as simple and inclusive as possible is no easy matter. What we are proposing is a document structure conducive to both individual reflections and participatory workshops.

Forecasting is not so much something we study as a state of mind we acquire. Thinking about the future prepares us for life in general, or a specific situation if the context is more determinant; being prepared gives us self-confidence; being self-confident is the key to dealing with the uncertainty of our times.

deftech.exploration is a series of workbooks designed for that purpose. Starting with issues of interest to the world of defence, we first seek to deconstruct the subject so as to illustrate its systematic nature. This highlights different ways of doing things, different players and the convergence of different areas of technology. Of course, this stage is a way of familiarising readers with the challenges met and making them aware of how these are evolving over time. Once the context has been set, the journey to the future can commence.

Starting from people’s natural interest in stories, the document is full of forward-looking micronarratives that seek to open up fields of possibilities in specific situations. Ultimately what we are looking for is not a consideration of the likelihood or timeline of the scenario proposed, but to show how we are able to deal with a particular situation today and what it implies, what tools, capacities and processes we have available. If no problems arise, it means our knowledge and the way we are organised are able to rise to the future challenge. On the other hand, if shortcomings emerge, once these have been identified appropriate countermeasures can be taken. We leave this analysis to the readers, who are the ones that have the knowledge.

An example from the workbook

Soldiers have written to the UN saying they refuse to go into combat because of robot soldiers. They feel that putting soldiers made of flesh and bone against opponents made of metal is not acceptable. They emphasise that they have nothing against robots, and are aware they do not feel hatred or anger.

Playing the role of coach in a neurolinguistic programming (NLP) approach, this document seeks to guide reflections – but the main content comes from the reader. By including space for writing, questions, workshops, the workbook suddenly comes to life. It can be used independently, while also stimulating exchange and interaction with different participants. The standard A4 format means it can be produced on any printer, enabling spontaneous use.

The themes currently available are: Augmented Soldier, Autonomous Engines and Systems, and Invisibility. New editions will be added in 2023. The workbooks are also useful for preparing courses on the future within the armed forces. Combining them with the thematic workbooks produced by Association Futurs allows a rapid response to be produced to any specific request. Even if no specific request has been formulated, within the programme we try to practice what we preach to our participants: be prepared!

Cover of the first workbook in the deftech.exploration series, dealing with the Augmented Soldier.
Cover of the first workbook in the deftech.exploration series, dealing with the Augmented Soldier.

The first issue for download

Back Overview S+T

Dr. Quentin Ladetto Research Management
and Operations Research
Feuerwerkerstrasse 39
CH-3602 Thun
+41 58 468 28 09