The competition: a CH-7 drone on display in Zhuhai city, China, November 2018
AP IMAGES / SHAN HE / IMAGINECHINA

In 1898, a Polish banker and self-taught military expert named Jan Bloch published The Future of War, the culmination of his long obsession with the impact of modern technology on warfare. Bloch foresaw with stunning prescience how smokeless gunpowder, improved rifles, and other emerging technologies would overturn contemporary thinking about the character and conduct of war. (Bloch also got one major thing wrong: he thought the sheer carnage of modern combat would be so horrific that war would “become impossible.”)

What Bloch anticipated has come to be known as a “revolution in military affairs”—the emergence of technologies so disruptive that they overtake existing military concepts and capabilities and necessitate a rethinking of how, with what, and by whom war is waged. Such a revolution is unfolding today. Artificial intelligence, autonomous systems, ubiquitous sensors, advanced manufacturing, and quantum science will transform warfare as radically as the technologies that consumed Bloch.

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  • CHRISTIAN BROSE is Head of Strategy at Anduril Industries, a Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and the author of a forthcoming book on the future of warfare. He was formerly Staff Director of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee. This article is adapted from a paper presented to the Aspen Strategy Group in August 2018.
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