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War and Technology - Foreign Policy Research Institute
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History of Medicine. Preclinical Medicine. Public Health and Epidemiology. Already, supposedly innocuous social technology is being put to murderous use. On the ground, advances in facial-recognition and surveillance software would identify targets and innocents, but it could also single out specific ethnic groups, facilitating repression or worse. Read: Urban warfare, then and now.
Despite all those innovations, the block-by-block, building-by-building, room-by-room fighting seen from Stalingrad to Aleppo will continue at great cost. Some war technologies exist only to protect and to restore confidence in troops entering potentially hostile territory. Sniper-detection devices can be fitted on vehicles. Soldiers will wear exoskeletons to increase strength and mobility, or graphene armor to reduce vulnerability.
They will fire self-steering bullets , and drive tanks built with composite metal foams that are supposedly invincible. Given the dangers of physically entering cities on the ground, drones offer a safer alternative. Underwater drones can patrol seaside towns. Drone swarms , consuming everything in their path like a biblical plague, will be the stuff of psychological warfare long before they became reality.
Paranoia pervades the sky , which might look empty but harbor invisible threats. Land-based robots will also strike terror into city dwellers, while collecting information from within the fog of confusion they also create. Reassurances that there was always a human supervisor somewhere in the operating of these otherwise autonomous weapons systems means little to the citizens who will watch them make their way through the streets like mechanical dogs, apes, or human beings.
The ethics of autonomous warfare has become a contemporary crusade. And third, it is easy to portray war robots as a humanitarian advance. They spare soldiers from PTSD caused by messy operations.
7 Technologies That Transformed Warfare
The roots of future conflicts are already here. Trade wars , territorial disputes , and resource grabs bubble away. International institutions promoting development and stability are being undermined by exceptionalism. Crucial urban infrastructure gets hacked and sabotaged by state agents.
This battlefield alone promises to be devastating in the age of the Smart City. Political disinformation campaigns are rife across the internet, with the Russian fog-creating technique of maskirovka , or military deception, going digital. The absence or fragility of these is not encouraging. The catastrophe of climate change alone has already begun to fuel conflict , and even attempts to mitigate it may lead to violence. What might spark the powder kegs could be anything from the seizure of an island in the South China Sea to a spree of graffiti to a market seller setting fire to himself.
Though these wars may happen far away from the metropolitan centers of the West, in a globalized world, ripples will undulate globally : Failed harvests. Economic collapses. Surges in refugees. The rise of populist parties. War is privatizing at the urging of defense contractors, and arms fairs, selling technology to be used at home and abroad, are booming. In the fog of war, and its manufacture, there is a lot of money to be made. We want to hear what you think about this article.