I have this reoccurring nightmare about a swarm of drones. I’m somewhere off the I-5 near like Santa Clarita with nothing but scrub around me and I hear them, a low humming noise. Before I know it there are hundreds of thousands in the sky, so many that they block out the sun. They just hang there with subgroups moving in precision like locusts. Eventually, someone takes a shot at them with a rifle and they swarm out of the way to let through a single shaft of light before rejoining to block it out again. It is clear that they are unbeatable.
It is terrifying.
The Russians have had a similar device for years, but with a slightly different approach to information gathering.
the difference being that they believe it’s easier to take photos of a building once it’s been reduced to rubble.
Watching the video for the autonomous circling, scanning LOCUSTs, just add human-seeker programming.
I don’t even know how to research this question so I’ll just post it here -
did previous evolutions in military technology seem this scary? Like, the first time someone saw a military airplane, did they think “well, that’s it, death from above, we’re all gonna get bombed”?
What I’m trying to figure out is - how much of this is scary because it’s new, and to what extent is it really just freaky as heck?
It’s not all that new. The militaries are late to a party that has been going on for years.
Nothing is unbeatable.
Dense formations will be vulnerable to conventional shrapnel-producing flak grenades.
Electronics can be jammed, or disabled via EMP.
Both fragmentation devices and EMP sources and jammers can be delivered by a counterdrone drone.
Every adversary has his Achilles’ heel. Often more than one.
Can you beat a swarm of locusts? Sure you can kill a few of them, maybe even thousands of them, but you can’t kill them all. Plus if they fly high enough, they can just have a small subset low enough to detect whatever sound your weapon makes, transmit to the swarm and evade in more than enough time to avoid your weapon.
By the time we build a plausible EMP weapon, they’ll move to photonic chips. And they can just use line of sight laser or point to point microwave communication for swarm purposes. Hell, they can use optics if they wanted to for basic behaviors. Unjammable today.
If they get to the point where they can manufacture these en masse, they won’t need to drop bombs. They just need to block out the sun for a few weeks and let the everything die.
Yes. Military planes were first used in World War I. The Germans did bombing runs over London, and people were terrified. There were riots. But the bombings didn’t actually do that much damage.
By World War II, air superiority was a matter of actual importance, and the bombings were devastating. But airplanes were more familiar by then, so there wasn’t the same outsized psychological impact. The resilience of Londoners during WWII was quite remarkable, in fact.
I’m definitely not a sufficient scholar of popular-literature-through-human-history to answer that question rigorously; but I suspect that the answer is of the disappointing “That Depends” variety.
We are probably better primed for this response than prior generations, for two main reasons: cold war apocalypse dystopia stuff (the discovery of power sufficient to unmake civilization is one thing; seeing the leaders of the world proceed to systematically and methodically build a giant collection of devices and delivery systems then set them on a hair trigger and proceed to stare each other down is…a more intense…experience); and science fiction movies with high production values. The odds are better than ever that, if somebody has hypothesized or mused about a weapon system, we’ve already seen it with fairly impressive realism.
Doesn’t mean that our predictions of the future are any more accurate than those of the past; but they may well be more vivid: especially since foreign correspondents are expensive and don’t achieve the same ratings, it’s totally plausible that we’ve seen better ‘coverage’ of a number of fictional worlds and battlefields than we have of ones our tax dollars are currently paying for. (As you noticed, I’ve already fought drone swarms, as have millions of others).
I don’t doubt that individuals in the past, right back to the guy who used an atlatl to put a spear through some animal at twice his usual range and thought “Fuck, what are the odds that the away tribe has these too?”, have been inspired to deep pessimism by new killing gear; but I’d guess that the more recent you are the greater the population in general’s belief (largely justified) in the power of technology is; and the more recent you are the more emotionally stirring and realistic depictions of fictional events are, which makes it easier for dread to be widespread, rather than confined to a single person who is recognized in retrospect; but not before.
Well, the introduction of gunpowder to Japan was hugely traumatic to the military leaders; as it meant a peasant with a musket and a week of training could take down a samurai with a lifetime of training and fantastically expensive gear. Not sure to what extent that freaked everybody the fuck out.
The advent of nuclear weapons certainly freaked everybody the fuck out. Some of us are still completely freaked out; and the rest avoid being completely freaked out through carefully cultivated denial.
Chemical weapons were freaky enough that the major military powers got together and banned them.
drones have already made the F-35 obsolete but our economy is a war economy that might crash if we divert defense contractors to domestic R&D.
Weapons of Class Destruction are serious business!
Maybe Lockheed will start building operational 1:40 R/C models of the F-35.
Daniel Suarez wrote a novel on drone swarms: Kill Decision.Not as great as Daemon, but still a pretty good read.
Uh, high-pressure bakelite extruders or maybe a really big net (perhaps two big nets?). Also keep in mind that a decent number of electronics are plausible emp weapons before fcc regulations.
Counter-drone-swarm gear will consist of five hundred chimps armed with sticks.
They could save money and increase realism by just building display models. Being capable of actually flying would completely ruin the resemblance to the real thing.