Will future war be about ultra-massive drones swarms and super-weapons somewhat like Ender’s Game?

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is a 2017 book by economist Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum.

The first three industrial revolutions are:
1. 1760 to 1840. the technologies were the steam engine, railroads, and machine manufacturing.
2. 1870 to 1914, the technologies were electricity and mass production.
3. the digital revolution, the last decades of the 20th century and produced semiconductors, computers, and the Internet (1960-2000).
4. Began in about 2000, the physical, digital, and biological are merging. Technological breakthroughs in quantum computing, biotechnology, artificial intelligence, robotics, neurotechnologies, smart cities and nanotechnology.

War on the Rocks has an analysis of these technologies on future war.

The World Bank the total value of global merchandise trade increased sharply from 1995 to 2008, dropped sharply in 2008, climbed steeply until 2011, then flattened from 2012 to 2014 and fell sharply in 2015—dropping from $18.995 trillion to $16.482 trillion. The fourth industrial revolution technologies appear to be causing deglobalization.

No single industry or social development is driving deglobalization. It is being driven by the cumulative effect of technological, political, and social trends across the globe. Perhaps the primary driver is the elimination of regional labor cost advantages that encouraged manufacturers to locate their production in low- labor-cost regions. Robotics, 3D printing, and artificial intelligence are driving manufacturers to reconsider not only how and what they make, but where they make it.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution will spread inexpensive military capabilities. The U.S. military must move away from small numbers of expensive “exquisite” weapons systems toward smaller, smarter, and cheaper weapons. Mass autonomous drones with swarming destructive power will eventually compete more on numbers of similar drones. Drone swarms may make defense the dominant form of warfare by allowing domain denial much easier than domain usage.

There will be innovative new weapons systems, including railguns, directed energy weapons, hyper-velocity projectiles, and hypersonic missiles. Conventional weapons will close the gap with nuclear weapons in destructive capability.

Future war could like a lot like Ender’s Game. This would be billions of tons of hypersonic drones combined with a variety of super-weapons. There not be the big chasm million fold between chemical weapons and nuclear weapons.

There could be a smoother range of power using magnetic power storage, kinetic weapons, nanotechnology enhancement to achieve and eventually exceeding nuclear energy and nuclear weapon systems.

There will also be extension into cyber weapons, bioweapons and nano-weapons that would be able to defeat opponents subversively.