The Cybernetic End of Conventional Warfare?


Cybernetic drones, cheaply made, relatively easy to make, relatively straight-forward to render cybernetically intelligent, armed with a proportionally small weapon, can be used disposably, in an inexpensive manner, to create potentially greater cost and destructive potential upon targets in a vastly disproportionate zero-sum calculation.

The future of modern warfare is genuinely frightening, and the most technologically advanced and powerful militaries in the world are now in effective field functions becoming “equalized” through the ad hoc use of new militarily-adapted, low cost technologies. However great the Goliath we may confront, we can always produce a semi-autonomous technological David to overcome the challenge.

We of the developed and “Democratic” world face a harsh dilemma in the promise of an even harsher reality of future global warfare. Our future of free and open human civilization, underwritten by free and open elections, maintained by transparent rule of law, can only be underwritten by the maintenance of large-scale and multi-purpose military forces that can protect and defend world order.

Loss of competence in this regard, whether imaginative and human or technological and scientific (most likely both) spells the loss of legitimacy and the net undermining of the basic conventional authorities upon which our modern world order has been founded. We are left back where we started in Prehistory—a world of all against all, and one of global anarchy and chaos controlled through dictatorship.

I write this and question the future, however bright and dim, not as a member of any government or organization, but as a basic human citizen of an emerging, and hopefully free and relatively peaceful world order in which final resort to conventional total warfare becomes less and less prospective.

The triumph of the semi-autonomous intelligent machine over the human being is not an historical triumph of global human civilization but a sign of its eventual, inevitable defeat. It will mean ultimately the subjugation of the human spirit of freedom and creativity to the mechanical, mechanistic discipline of machines becoming more and more “anthropoid.”

War has always been terrible business—cruel, barbaric, murderous and indiscriminate. This was true in the age of band melee warfare in human prehistory as it will become true in the futuristic warfare of remotely guided or even self-guiding missiles with great precision and accuracy striking pin-point targets at great range and great speed. The tyranny of human warfare is the terror of its coercive violence.

Military organization appears to be universal to all state organized systems. Freedom is only as good as those who will protect and defend it by resort to war (however much a last and final resort.) Now we live increasingly in a global “meta-system” that depends upon a global “meta-state” to enforce law and order and to ensure protection of humankind’s rights and freedoms.

This global meta-state system cannot be not subject to the whims of a single dominant party or the idiosyncracies of a single dominant personality, but must be capable of independently enforcing its law and order in a military manner. The most we can expect from the cybernetic escalation of the mass lethality of modern warfare is the final result to weapons of mass destruction and global disequilibrium.