WIRED World 2023: The Story of War, the Evils, and the Vulnerabilities of Armed Systems in the 21st Century
In 2023, it will no longer be possible to sneak up on someone else’s country with an army, navy, or air force, or to conceal the death and destruction that they inflict. Armed forces around the world will try to counter this by assembling, moving from home bases, and maneuvering on the front lines in more dispersed ways, hiding as much as possible in plain sight. The fleet of commercial vans moving small numbers of heavy artillery rounds on well-varied routes from West to East in Ukranian proves what can be done.
This story is from the WIRED World in 2023, our annual trends briefing. Purchase a copy of the magazine to read more stories from the series.
The success of shoulder-launched and heavy anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles against columns of armored vehicles and streams of aircraft, as well as the vulnerability of the whole ofUkraine to Russia’s long-range cruise and ballistic missiles, made up for the sinking of the Russian ship Mos If one missile were to be used, it could destroy a platform that could cost millions and put the lives of its crews in danger. This will transform how armies, navies, and air forces organize, equip, and operate. The restraining factor today is the cost and manufacturing complexity of these weapons, but as the world lives with the existential peril of a 21st century Great Power Conflict, the urgency to drive down costs and increase inventory will only grow.
The nature of war will not change even though it has changed: it is about breaking peoples’ stuff faster than you can. It is still a contest of wills, and the human condition is far from being eradicated for irrationality, despair, and ferocity. The outcome will remain an unscripted mix of reason, emotion, and chance. Technology does not change how we fight.
The problems of Pentagon technology: A vision of augmented intelligence and the Internet of things (with a deadly twist), from Einstein to a new tech company
When he became CEO of the company, it was barely making money and had few hundred employees. He left the company to focus on new projects including artificial intelligence, self-driving cars, and quantum computers.
The problem of Pentagon technology is the most pressing, according to a person who says they are not authorized to say so. “Every once in a while, a new weapon, a new technology comes along that changes things,” he says. “Einstein wrote a letter to Roosevelt in the 1930s saying that there is this new technology—nuclear weapons—that could change war, which it clearly did. I would argue that [AI-powered] autonomy and decentralized, distributed systems are that powerful.”With Over the last decade, a similar view has taken root inside the DOD, where leaders believe that artificial intelligence will change military hardware, intelligence gathering and software. The Pentagon had begun to assess technology that might help it maintain its edge over the Chinese military. The Defense Science Board, the agency’s top technical advisory body, concluded that AI-powered autonomy would shape the future of military competition and conflict.
“Let’s imagine we’re going to build a better war-fighting system,” Schmidt says, outlining what would amount to an enormous overhaul of the most powerful military operation on earth. We would create a tech company. He goes on to sketch out a vision of the internet of things with a deadly twist. It would build a large number of inexpensive devices that were attritable and also drones that had weapons and would be connected together.