Saturday, February 21, 2009

War Without Warriors

From In These Times:

Robots have the perverse side effect of making war seem easy.

The claws weren’t like other weapons. They were alive, from any practical standpoint, whether the Government wanted to admit it or not. They were not machines. They were living things, spinning, creeping, shaking themselves up suddenly

from the gray ash and darting toward a man, climbing up him, rushing for his throat. And that was what they had been designed to do. Their job.

—Philip K. Dick, “Second Variety” (1953)

Robots programmed not just to analyze the foe but to kill him without waiting for orders.

Swarms of bird-sized drones assaulting an enemy force, quickly overwhelming it not just by the numbers but by an artificial intelligence (AI) that can adjust tactics to changing battlefield conditions faster than a human can blink.

Soldiers going into battle with tracked mechanical companions, whom the men don’t just give nicknames to, but cry over when they are “killed.”

The last of these scenarios is already taking place in Iraq, the other two are soon to follow. After that, not just warfare, but human society itself will never be the same.

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