It seems like only yesterday that warriors were dropping steel spikes out of cloth and wood fighters on combatants in the trenches of WWI. The propellers of their slow, noisy machines had steel armor to deflect the bullets from the Vickers machine guns in front of the pilot, so the new military airplane technology would not become a short exercise in Russian roulette. By 1915 the Germans perfected August Euler’s 1910 patent to “interrupt” the machine gun firing by mechanically timing it with the airplane’s crankshaft to extend the lifespan of the weak link in the system, the pilots.
One of my favorite movies is “The Last Starfighter,” where a gamer from a trailer park saves the universe after being recruited by music salesman in a flying DeLorean-ish automobile/spaceship. You might prefer the X-Wing boys in red, snapping through the TIEs to blast the latest Death Star. Zap-Zap, use the force, BOOM! It isn’t going to be that way. That bit of red shirt Science Fiction is already dead Jim. The drones are coming in 2016, and it’s Skynet ascending.
Valentine’s Day 2016 is the inception date of Pris, the hot Daryl Hannah replicant in that other movie about a future. Roy was activated on January 8, 2016. Will the replicants be the real explorers on the deck of the Enterprise? Maybe so.
A young, trained fighter pilot with a modern pressure suit can pull 8 or 9 G’s (gravity acceleration equivalents) and perform his or her mission without passing out. The record survival acceleration is 46.2 G’s for a momentary shock. The 1970s vintage F-16 fighter was the first military aircraft designed to pull 9-G maneuvers, while missiles can turn at 40-Gs. Without the limits of human pilots drones can be designed to turn faster, closer to missiles than piloted aircraft. What about those Rebel Starfighters and human pilots? Red blots in the cockpit.
It’s already happening. The new F-35 Lightening II fighter cannot match the dogfight performance of the F-16, no matter the pilot G-loads—and the Russians are building F-35 killer drones. The navel battleship was obsolete after WWI in the same way as manned fighters are obsolete in 2016. The repicants are here.
Armored military vehicles can also kill their operators. The M1 Abrams battle tank has a speed governor on it. Not because it will go too fast and damage the tank, but because when the tank runs full out across rugged terrain the machine can easly take a pounding that would kill the driver.
In 2004 the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) sponsored a series of self-driving vehicle competitions in the Mojave Desert. The early winner was the Stanford University Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, and the technology quickly drove down the street to become the Google self-driving car program
The Silicon Valley Google/Apple/Tesla/… autonomous vehicle rush now is to perfect the autonomous vehicle technology and secure some kind of new, yet-to-be-invented, government approval/sanction to permit the vehicles to operate on the highway—to shield the purveyors of said future transportation from legal liability. The $64,000 question, as the old people used to say is still about the money.
None of this is new. Vehicle automatic control technologies have been developing for more than 100 years.
Other 10,000lb gorillas, Amazon and Facebook are going for the gold in drones to deliver packages and build sky networks, or “skynets” you could call them. None of them will have pilots and most of the flying will be autonomous computer control. The UPS driver will soon be a replicant.
Enjoy the science fiction shoot‘em up space battles and heroic fliers leading the charge. The replicants will be doing the real thing.
I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe.
Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion.
I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate.
All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.
Time to die.