We are continually told that AI and autonomous robotic entities will put people out of work. Modern factory floors full of robots and not full of people, and modern mines full of driverless vehicles and robotic diggers (oh, hello Adani) attest to the truth of all of that.
But what about in the military sphere? Because we are also told that no matter what level of sophisticated weaponry one decimates enemy territory with, the only way to secure and hold territory is to put boots on the ground. The boots on the ground maxim has been a staple military requirement for thousands of years. If you don’t get your garrisons in you don’t get to hold the ground. To a great extent the maxim still holds true.
But for how much longer?
It is an unfortunate fact of modern life that there are multiple forms of smart weaponry patiently sitting out there waiting for either a sweaty or an eager finger to dab down on the red or coloured otherwise button. Smart Weaponry, AI controlled, and not necessarily endowed with an attached ethics module. Press. Boom. Goodbye worrying about the skyrocketing ascension of your next power bill.
But those weapons, multiple nuclear or biological warheaded ICBMs and the like represent the delivery of armageddon from a distance. They take off on the other side of the planet, or from some hidden sub somewhere, and blow the crap out of our happy beach side BBQs on this side. Splat, we’re gone, and then in come the enemy soldiers to eat up what’s left of the snags. The boots on the ground maxim gets another trot out.
But Smart Bullets will kill off the maxim in a nanosecond.
Our army is currently investing heavily in the design of autonomous driver-less military vehicles. An AI controlled jeep or somesuch with a menacing popgun mounted on the prow, fair enough, it means our military personnel can project force from a distance without having to duck flying bits of metal themselves. Not a bad plan.
But what about close-in defence? What about when the maxim supplied snag eating enemy are taking pot shots at us with their rifles and bullets? What do we do when things get a bit up close and personal?
Why, we use Smart Bullets of course. Swarms of the little buggers. Controlled by AI.
Have you ever noticed how missiles fired from military jets swerve and home-in on their designated targets, and chaff and desperate avoidance aside, usually get to splot the enemy jet. Well, why cannot that technology be miniaturised down, and for all we know it probably already has, and be applied to the humble old bullet?
Bullets at the moment get to be fired out of pistols and rifles and they generally follow a gravity dropping path from A to B over a fairly short distance in military terms, but further than a bayonet can reach of course. But once those bullets are fired they are on their own. Thine aim was true or not becomes the deciding factor, and the ducking ability of the snaggers comes in to play as well. Dumb bullets can’t think, they just go where they are sent.
But imagine a little bullet that can think. Imagine a little bullet that can see. Imagine a little bullet that has a two stage propellant system on board, one to launch it out of a barrel, and then the secondary one to allow it to swerve. Of course you’d have to add miniaturised little vanes to the thing to allow it some cornering ability, and the AI on board would have to be robust enough to recognise that, yes, that is indeed a snagger, and not you or me, lurking behind the change shed at Bondi.
The Smart Bullet would search for the hidden snagger.
But if you can imagine all of that, then you could probably also imagine that the invention and utilisation of Smart Bullets might make the need for rifles, and the soldiers who bear them, just a tad obsolete.
The bullet is a drone in other words.
A fleet of large predator drones loaded with zillions of little Smart Bullet Drones could on the one hand waft happily and lazily over all of the important areas of Australia, Sunshine Coast where I live included, and could on the other hand also put the wind up any potential snagger who wants to come here and disrupt our BBQs. It would also enable us to save an awful amount of dosh by dumping the purchase of our obsolete french subs.
Ok, we are talking about the future. A not too far distant future. And I’m aware that the little theory I’ve suggested here has enough holes in it to drive an old Leopard Tank through. But, so what? Why not give the thought a run?
I can’t help but feel that we are equipping our military with weapons systems that would be excellent at helping us to win the the last war that we were involved in, but that would be totally inadequate to meet our needs in a future war that we all hope that we can avoid.
The threat of the use of nuclear weaponry has not receded, it still sits there. However, we are now faced with the next generation of smart AI controlled autonomous weaponry that will seek us and our soldiers out in a remorseless and unethical manner (ethical war? surely a debate in itself). We are hardly prepared for such a prospect.
I’d prefer that no snaggers come here in a boots on the ground mop-up operation, I’d prefer that no snaggers of any nationality go anywhere in the world on a boots on the ground mop-up operation, I’d prefer that none of our soldiers get killed for any reason in any war, I’d prefer that war be consigned to the dustbin of history, I’d prefer that the maxim of boots on the ground be head-butted into irrelevance, but until all of that happens I’d prefer that we work out ways to defend ourselves.
Nanotechnology. AI. Drones. Smart Bullets.
Cheaper than wasting the lives of our Soldiers I’d have thought.
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