Wars are an integral part of the entire human civilization. They are ever-changing and ever-evolving. The best demonstration of it would be the comparison of war in ancient history and recent modern history. The technology to even warfare methods changed in these wars.
Warfare is the backbone of every victory in battle; with every technological change, the methods of warfare change drastically.
Generation of Warfare
Various research has been conducted on the evolution of war and warfare. Still, the most discussed is the history of modern warfare published by the USA under the leadership of William S. Lind.
The research discusses the conduct of warfare by categorizing them into five different generations. However, it is interesting to notice that warfare conduct is heavily dependent on technological advancement. In the age of primitive weapons, warfare was too simplistic and primitive.
In the first generation of warfare, fighting a war includes primitive and simplistic methods. The weapons used were usually short-ranged, and lagging speed made the battle formation line the crucial tactic during the war.
The English civil war and the seven years’ war are some wars that used first-generation warfare. However, the invention of the rifled musket and the breech-loader changed it forever, causing an end to first-generation warfare.
With the invention of the rifled musket and the breech loader, the close fight was a clear invitation to death. Therefore, the conduct of war changed. It gave birth to the second generation of warfare; the tactics developed and became an integral part of the war.
In the Second Generation of warfare, blitzkrieg tactics developed and became a necessity for warfare. Some famous Blitzkrieg techniques, including trench warfare, Reconnaissance techniques, and fireteam maneuvers, became essential in the wars.
The use of enemy lines was still there, however, with limited use. But their use of them became annihilated with technological advancement. An example of second-generation warfare would be the American Civil War and WWI.
However, the technological advancements were just the beginning; with further improvements, the new versions of the machine guns innovated, and the factor of speed became crucial.
The tactics were now developed keeping technological disadvantages in mind, which is the base of the tactics in third-generation warfare. Battle lines have been completely abandoned in third-generation warfare.
In this, the commanders of the entire war distanced themselves from micromanaging every unit. Instead, every unit is commanded by one leader with power; in this regard, a great deal of trust is required. The third generation of warfare and war is the most recent type of war. An example of it would be WW2 & Korean War.
Then the fourth generation of warfare blur the line between war, politics, combatants, and civilians. This ambiguous situation arises because of the shift of the focus of warfare itself; in this generation of warfare, the main goal is to create an internal disruption rather than having a head-on war. Then the technological advancement meant to connect people and make the life of civilians easy were also included in the war.
An example of it would be the fake news circulating on social media. The people who follow unauthorized sources of information tend to protest against their own country under fake news is the winning sign for the enemy country. Political and defence analysts have termed it information warfare.
This generation of warfare is making war every day and to everyone through technology. The next generation of warfare includes using digital technology on the battlefield. Although it does show its fang in the fourth generation of warfare, it is not fully come into implementation yet, because of the underdevelopment of the technology itself.
Currently, scientists are developing the technologies such as Artificial Intelligence.
A basic objective of artificial intelligence is to enable computers and robots to make their own decisions.
AI is the first step for any robot soldier in Army; the views on AI and its application in war are highly diverse and highly contrasting. Many defense analysts commented on the impracticality of using AI in live war because the spontaneity on the battlefield is too high, and making accurate predictions and data for the unknown terrain would be impossible.
The researchers of George Mason University (GMU) have explained it in-depth in the blog of LSE. However, all of them agreed that it might be too early to predict the robots and their employment in the war, and AI with slight human regulation skyrockets the efficiency of the military.
Take, for example, the automated guns in collaboration with facial recognition software. They have shown quite a good performance in the trials, recognizing the allies and shooting down the enemies.
The New York Times has reported a detailed report about it explained in their analytical video.
Currently, AI is making its best use of the algorithms of the big tech giant, such as Google search recommendations and Facebook algorithm of suggestions. Even here, AI can predict future reactions or occurrences with enough data.
However, without data availability, even the grasp on the present will be a tough row. These make defense analysts less confident about AI in live war than live soldiers. Furthermore, the usage of AI will also put the ethics of any human society in question.
AI is a lethal system for fighting; there is no compassion for the opponent, causing AI to kill regardless of who opponents are, killing them regardless of anything, whether the victim is a woman, a physically paralyzed scapegoat, or a child forced into fighting. If AI recognizes them as an enemy, they will kill him regardless of the outcome.
However, not all the technologies used in future wars are this controversial.
The one well-known technology of the future will be nanotechnology. Yes, the savior of the world in Avengers: Endgame. Nanotechnology deals with matters with 1 – 100 nm; naturally, it was tough to find a way to control the things here on this scale, but luckily we have something to come up with. The first thing is carbon nanofibers.
The big military powers are invested in this technology while the USA and China are leading the race; the rest of the world is still trying to cope with them; unlike AI, the focus of Nanotechnology is to enhance the current infantry and technologies. Currently, the successful trials in the integration of nanotechnology and defense involve:
- The lifespan of material coatings has risen from hours to years, but development is still ongoing.
- Using nanostructured silicates, 980 lbs. of insulating weight was lost.
- Devices for high-power microwaves (HPM) with decreased weight, form, and power usage.
Nevertheless, like AI, nanotechnology is also in its initial development phase; the results they gave were only a glimpse of the actual picture and would be much more powerful.
In the phys.org article, the author discusses his understanding and predicts the future, which can be possible with nanotechnology, including the nanotechnology with the soldiers and even the uniform will transform the perspective of the war.
The potential use of nanotechnology is the ability to heal the person or soldier without any external interference from a doctor; now talk, in the movie, this will change how soldiers conduct their mission and the machines responsible for stopping them.
In addition to it, making the sensors small to a nanoscale give the army advantage of installing them on huge numbers, both on the gin and the human soldiers; the sensors will be able to quantify the damage that even the soldiers aren’t able to for some time, this will not only give the better reading or the health state and condition of the human soldier and the weapon but also provide the basic lifeline of the AI that is the data, about the soldier and the machine.
With this combination, we can assume very well that even in the absence of a good soldier, several decisions can be made by AI, or at the very least many enhanced suggestions will be given to the soldiers based on the data collected by the nano-sensors.
The crucial and magical property y of nanotechnology is to self-heal itself, which can be done through scientific phenomena, i.e., due to the large surface area of the attached functional group explained by the article.
It will not only make the one-time use of weapons reusable but also reduce the long-term cost of the war for those who can afford this technology. We should keep in mind that nanotechnology will be a cornerstone of getting us big data and thus making the cornerstone of AI for the war in the future.
While nanotechnology is quite remarkable in its developmental stage, its advancement and full potential might seem like the power of god to many. In the current scenario, new prototypes of nanomaterials and concepts are in development that deals with their potential to emit energy from their movement.
Scientists are anticipating the potential of nanomaterials that enable them to harvest energy from the environment. Despite the immeasurable benefits and uses of nanotechnology, it is not the most exciting concept for defense analysts and defense ministries of nations. Instead, digital and cyber warfare is the one with the most attention-worthy.
Why so, many of you may ask? The simple reason is because of the development and its use; unlike all the other methods still in development and taking time for their first testing in war, cyber warfare has already become common for many countries.
However, the technology is still used to sabotage enemies or steal information rather than in war. Cyber attacks are currently limited to espionage, sabotage, propaganda, economic disruption, and surprise cyber attacks.
Most of them are concerned with hacking the vital computers designated in the service of a country’s defense or making deepfakes to disrupt their internal communication. So, coming back to the question of what future wars will look like. There is only one sure-shot answer to it; only the future holds the answer.
However, that doesn’t mean we don’t know anything. Taking the facts of today into account, we can imagine the future. Since when we suspect based on the facts, we can predict what will happen.
War & Warfare in Future
It is 2070, the world has gone on world war, two major powers are colliding, and the world is witnessing the war of machines.
The USA and its allies are against Russia; Joe, a computer scientist, has been assigned to launch a cyber attack on the Russian computers designated in their central leadership. Soon his team came across a new challenge to defend their bank servers and power grid on the power station. His team was now used to it; they soon came across the malware and took care of it. However, it seems the attack also failed. But Joe and his teams started to prepare for their next cyber attack amid the cyber war.
Vladamir, a young commander, was also ready to fight for his country. Unlike his great-grandfather, who also was a soldier, he was much more worried about his life. Instead, he was more careful about his vest and guns.
Some swarms started to show on the radar, some destroyed by the air defense. Some of them appear on the field with the robots and human Army on his post; he immediately activates his side of the robot faction, too, and while commanding the majority of the robots through his thoughts, thanks to the nano chips on his brains reading, processing and transmitting the ideas to the robots.
While fighting, one drone attack Vladamir and explodes itself. The nanomachines on his vest are damaged to some extent, and Vladamir is injured, but neither of them is a reason for the concern.
The nanotechnology is healing Vladamir and self-repairing themselves; while in a state of healing, Vladamir set the guns to be on automatic mode, and the AI is again making the decision and killing the robots of the opposite side; nevertheless, this battle had a good stroke of luck for Vladamir as it has defended his territory.
While these were my prediction on how the two battles will carry out in the future, these predictions may not be accurate. Still, the involvement of these technologies in warfare is inevitable.