Technology Has Always Been Fundamental to War
Sun Tzu wrote about the strategy of war and a common thread throughout his writings is assessing not only an army’s position and personnel, but the quantity and quality of technology and whether or not it’s superior to what the enemy has. In a very real sense, wars drive technology advancement as warriors think of new ways of fighting and new weapons for the battlefield. Discovering or inventing a new weapon can make weapons from a previous era obsolete in a matter of days.
The US Juggernaut
The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) was created after the launch of Sputnik in 1958. US decision-makers knew that being behind the technological curve was a recipe for decline and possibly disaster. And DARPA is a gift that keeps on giving. One of its major breakthroughs was the development of the precursor of the internet, a decentralized communication system to allow people to communicate in the aftermath of a nuclear war.
New Global Military Competition
There are a number of megatrends affecting the US military which affect the types of technology that can be adopted. These trends include a declining national infrastructure and the hollowing out of the US industrial base. Because some military technologies require imports from foreign countries, the length of acquisition times and security breaches increases. On top of this is the relative decline in US wealth and budgets available for military technology. Finally, because of globalization and the adoption of market-based economies in Asia, the challenge to America’s long-standing military superiority is strong.
War in the Robotic Age
Arguably, robots are already at work on the front lines of war. Drones are flying robots which reduce the risk to military personnel if not to innocent civilians on the ground. Military decision-makers now have a different calculation to make when deciding whether or not to strike at an enemy. Robots don’t die and will never be buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
The following documentary explains the US Army’s top-secret mission to build the robot army of the future.