Opinion: The real future weapons of war

T3’s resident James Wallman Futurologist looks ahead...

No industry has seen a rise in advance technology than the weapons industry - and it's about to get even more exciting and - dare we say it - cool. T3 columnist James Wallman explains why...

The structure of power is shifting, as futurist James Bellini told me, from the “pyramid to the pancake”. And, as political theorist Joseph Nye describes it, from the “top of the heap” to “the centre of circle”.

If they are right, I’m on the underside of the pancake or the outer reaches of the circle, because someone else decides what knowledge I impart to you – T3’s all-powerful editor, Luke Peters, who’s charged me this month with telling you about the future of power. Since the ultimate expression of power is violence, I’ll start with the future of war.

As US expert Peter Singer told me, the future of war looks pretty cool. It includes lasers like the ones on the Death Star, although in the move from science fiction to science fact they’re now called “directed energy weapons”.

It also includes increasingly advanced killer robots. “The Predator,” says Singer, talking about the military drone currently policing the air in Pakistan, “may seem advanced, but it’s actually the Model T of the field.”

Other exciting, nasty bastard future weapons include microbiotic, bio-agent, nano and electromagnetic pulse weapons.

“It all may seem straight from the realm of science fiction,” says Singer, “but it is on track to be deployable well before most of us have paid off our mortgages.”

Most interestingly, humans are busy turning themselves into the super-weapons of the future. The first pioneers are already enhancing the bodies they were born with.

The University of Reading’s Kevin Warwick has taught himself to see like a bat, using a baseball cap fitted with ultrasonic tech. In a similar bid for bat-like powers, Todd Huffman at the Alcor Life Extension Foundation has implanted magnets in his hand. He’s “saving up for the GPS implant next”.

GPS tracking? Aren’t some of us already doing that with geo-location tools like Geoloqui and Foursquare? Yes, actually, and this is fundamentally changing who and what we are – and making us more powerful.

“If you think of devices like Twitter and Facebook,” says Professor Andy Miah. “You can see we’re already becoming an informational species, our every activity becomes part of a communication loop.”

Think of how important Twitter and Facebook have been to today’s rebellions. They are placing us closer to the centre of the circle, or, indeed, the pancake.