4GW: A solution of the first kind – Robots!
Just as visionaries earn more than analysts, so do solutions of the first kind (hardware) receive more funding than solutions of the second (ideas) or the third kind (ways to attract, retain, and train people). This is life in modern America. This is why we continue to lose at 4GW.
The big money is in building things. Sometimes they work, like the F-16. Sometimes they do not, like the nuclear aircraft engine. Sometimes they work but are too expensive to produce, like the XM2001 Crusader. Sometimes they are too expensive to produce, but we do so anyway — like the F-22. Now it appears that robots are the future of defense procurement, as seen in these articles.
- “Attack Of The Genius Robot Cockroach Swarm“, DefenseTech (15 September 2006)
- “America’s Robot Army: Are Unmanned Fighters Ready for Combat?“, Popular Mechanics (March 2008)
- “The Pentagon’s Battle Bugs“, Nick Turse, TomDispatch (30 March 2008)
- “Unmanned Systems Roadmap: 2007-2032″, Office of the Secretay of Defense (10 December 2007) — Web site; the report (12 meg PDF). “This roadmap provides Defense-wide vision for unmanned systems and related technologies. The Department will continue … updating it as transformational concepts emerge. Unmanned systems wil continue to have a central role in meeting our country’s diverse security needs, especially in the Global War on Terrorism.”
Corporate profits drive decisions about investments in our future, even our continued existence and prosperity. Research about modern history, funding wide-ranging studies of different methods to fight and win modern wars … these things cost little but still remain unfunded.
For evidence of this, search our libraries and think-tank archives for a multi-disciplinary study of insurgencies. Nothing. Correlating the relevant characteristics on standardized scales, calculating the relative significance of the key factors. It would take a perhaps a dozen man-years of effort. The results would settle several long-running debates about the nature of insurgencies. Instead what we have today are fragmentary pictures done by individuals, each ideosyncratic and difficult to correlate or compare.
With research like this in hand, the next edition of the COIN manual, FM 3-24, could be founded on more than expert guesses. However shocking, many studies show that experts do not guess much better than layman, even about their own speciality. It is knowledge, based on meticuous research, that gives experts their expertise.
Solutions of the first kind: new things (i.e., robots, autonomous flying vehicles,
software to help us understand and manipulate foreign societies).
Solutions of the second kind: new ideas about tactics and strategy.
Solutions of the third kind: new ways to shape our institutions
– aka politics — usually by altering how they recruit, train, and promote people.
Other posts about robots and automation
- 4GW: A solution of the first kind – Robots!, 8 April 2008
- The coming big increase in structural unemployment,
- The coming Robotic Nation, 28 August 2010
Other posts about 4GW and military theory
To read other articles about these things, see the FM reference page on the right side menu bar. Of esp interest these days:
Post in the series “Solutions to 4GW”:
- A solution to 4GW — the introduction
- How to get the study of 4GW in gear
- Arrows in the Eagle’s claw — solutions to 4GW
- Arrows in the Eagle’s claw — 4GW analysts
- Visionaries point the way to success in the age of 4GW
- 4GW: A solution of the first kind – Robots!
- 4GW: A solution of the second kind
- 4GW: A solution of the third kind