By Professor Daniel Moran
Last updated 2011-02-17
Nowadays those responsible for contemplating the future of war tend to focus on a wide range of information technologies, which have already dramatically accelerated the pace, expanded the range, and heightened the precision of military operations.
The Predator drone, shown here with an American aircraft carrier in the background, is a characteristic example of such technology at work. Unmanned aerial vehicles were originally designed to provide reconnaissance in environments that were too dangerous to risk a human pilot. They have since been modified to carry weapons, which can be delivered with great precision thanks to the same satellite-based navigational technology that guides the Predator itself. The entire system is operated by someone at a computer terminal, perhaps on the carrier, perhaps not.
The essence of new information technologies, as applied to war, is that they have made the accuracy and effectiveness of weapons independent of the range from which they are fired. On the battlefields of the future all detectable targets will be equally at risk, while the 'shooter' may be literally anywhere. Such methods of fighting are a natural expression of an information-intensive, rapidly globalising society, in precisely the same way that the hoplite phalanx was a natural expression of the primitive democracy of the Greek cities.
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