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« Modular Models of Molecular Manufacturing | Main | Acid, Oceans, and Oil »

November 08, 2007


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Michael Anissimov

"Military Nanotechnology" is the best book on nanotechnology policy that I'm aware of. His concrete recommendations are very helpful.

Brian Wang

Some consideration should be given to

1. what are the non-nano ways that production could greatly increase ?

Breakthroughs that allow expanded reel to reel production. ECD Ovonics quantum control devices made from polymers able to produced without or with limited performance degradation relative to silicon. Allowing for MEMS and computers to be produced far more quickly. MEMS can be used to create UAVs.

Breakthroughs with arrays of MEMS/NEMS to speed up 3D printing from the nanoscale up.

Mere force multiplier effects or the enabling of a more antiseptic war does not really alter the geopolitical situation.

Also, there is no motivations for global governance if it is primarily the existing major powers that get more and maintain a lead and dominance over others.

I think the existing national powers and the existing political structure could adapt to the most common and likely scenarios without ceding sovereignty.

2. How important is production relative to strategy and tactics or radically new systems capabilities ?

More clever usage of relatively mundane conventional weapons and non-weapons technology could be used to far greater effect. Air superiority and ruthlessness (similar to the Romans over Carthage or using the WW2 russian tactics of scorched earth but on enemy terrain) could be used to genocide a country in weeks.

Merely the production of a lot more robotic weapons does not overcome nuclear deterrent.

John B

Brian Wang - How does nano -enabled or -leveraging warfare count as a "more antiseptic" form of warfare? I would expect a messier variant, not a cleaner one, from most any form of nanoscale system you care to postulate. Even a nanoblock device could be a really nasty supply device and evidence hider for an insurgency, for instance.


John B

*grin* No wonder you like it, Mike - it reinforces your position!

*shrug* Can't say I like your chosen endstate, but I can certainly understand your motivations. This nanotechnology "stuff" is certainly scary, were it to come even partway true.


Brian Wang

The more antiseptic version of warfare would be for say the USA to get a lot more robotic vehicles (currently they have about 3000-4000). If the USA were to get up to 1 million+ because of advances in production then the robotic vehicles could perform more of the work of the soldiers and personnel. It would be more antiseptic (lower casualties) for one side.

If the robotic vehicles have high endurance (low energy usage) and are able to stay on constant watch then they could enable constant policing. Gigapixel images from low energy cameras, other types of spectrum scanners (lidar etc...). It would be a range of vehicles for different functions.

John B

While I agree that one side could potentially have lower casualties, that's assuming a stand-up fight with clearly defined opposition - which isn't the case in the current crop of low-intensity conflicts.

Collateral damage is also not addressed - something I think would need very careful handling, given the current 'training' in virtual combat. "If it's breakable, shoot it" is a basic mantra in most modern first-person shooter (FPS) game titles - at least, in all the ones I'm aware of.

And assuming fully-automated systems, there'll likely be a long and messy period of time during which the systems mature. Even after that period, opponents will likely be attempting to use the onboard programming of the systems against their creators, either literally (generating 'friendly fire' incidents) or figuratively (generating massive negative publicity with apparently unwarrented slaughter, or at least PR indicating such)

Given the FCS concept in the US army today, I agree that there will certainly be different vehicles for different tasks near-term, and I agree that optimization for specific roles will likely continue.

In short - I don't expect 'antiseptic' to even remotely apply to conflict in anything near term, and will be greatly surprised if the current asymmetric warfare model doesn't get worse, not better, over time and improved technology.

-John B

Brian Wang

The antiseptic from one side point of view in its more advanced form can handle asymmetric warfare. The permanent monitoring systems will basically put the populace into a robotic open prison. There would not be that much fighting because it would be clamped down. Constant analysis and visual tracking.

Plus there would still be human control behind the automation to prevent and limit hacking. There would still be the need for counter-cyber operations.

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