The following is my new short story, AUTOMATED VALOR, that explores the future of urban warfare, autonomous weapons, citizenship, and the essence of combat leadership in the AI era – all from a non-US perspective. This story, kindly published by the US Naval Institute’s Proceedings magazine, was commissioned by the British Army Concepts Branch to stoke dialogue and debate about force development and military operations in the 2030s. (The story represents my views alone, to be clear.) USNI also commissioned artist Alex Brady to illustrate the story (see the image above).
Sticky’s seat began vibrating, a resonant warning from deep inside the British Commonwealth Legion high-speed fighting vehicle, a Marathon HSFV. Then the gunner felt the closing Chinese bot swarm almost in her teeth—as if the sound were coming from her and the crew, not a fast-approaching enemy.
“Move, move, move!” she shouted. The closer the threat, the more her harness tightened, shielding her behind the combat couch’s blast-resistant wings. It felt as if somebody were hammering her coffin lid down while she was paralyzed but still alive. This particular fear was a well-worn track for the 24-year-old private. To suppress the panic, she angrily gloved a salvo of 30 thumb-sized diverters skyward. She quickly followed them with a pair of four-inch pulse-mortar rounds. Those would float gently down on parachutes, shorting out anything electronic within a five-meter radius until they exhausted their batteries. Her haptic suit pinched her to let her know it was overkill for the incoming threat, but it still felt right. She could answer for it when she wasn’t as worried about dying—whenever that day might come.
Read the full story at the US Naval Institute’s Proceedings magazine.