Autonomous airplanes, tanks, patrol vehicles, foot soldiers, sentries, logistics vehicles and intelligence-gathering devices give great promise as means for reducing the casualties and costs of war, especially in relation to occupation and counter-insurgency work. One of the great obstacles to the spread of freedom is the natural reluctance of civilized nations to risk the lives of their soldiers in order to bring freedom to cultures undeserving of it. Automation holds out the prospect of changing the dynamics so as to allow occupation and ‘nation building’ without risking the lives of servicemen and without having to kill those being liberated. Moreover, the use of robots will remove the perception of an occupying force (and thus one of the main spurs to resistance)—it will in effect become a simple loan of hardware and remote technical support. The men and women of the armed forces will be able to work from the comfort of their own homes or offices and thus be saved from exposure to physical and psychological injury.

This article is an extract from the book ‘Principles of Good Government’ by Matthew Bransgrove