Cry ‘Havoc!’ and let slip the drones of war…

Recently reading of airborne multiple-drone systems that, being once (and unsuccessfully) modelled on insect swarms, are now being modelled on wolf-pack behaviour, it got me thinking.

Biomimetic systems are powerful but I do wonder if and when the analogies that compel them might at times become inadvertently inhibitory. Logic and technological (as much as biological) complexity are effectively unbound from the metaphors and material contexts that sustain them.

What is emerging from research in swarming technology is that these quite naturally (and as a consequence of combinatorial drift through the entropy of probabilistic possibility) tend towards a collective intelligence in which the cognitive aptitude of these component microcosms are enhanced as a function of their integrated interdependence and purposive collaboration.

Something worth considering is that if the sum total of self-organisational aptitude (as distributed intelligence) across a swarm is enhanced proportional to contexually open or free, interdependently integrated information flows, then a user or external control node is logically bootstrapped up into this cognitive amplification.

For this reason, facilitating low-friction application interfaces is (probably) critically significant for more than just reasons of rapid training and skills acquisition.

The human in this loop undergoes cognitive hyper-extension both in and as the technology, no less than the distributed material nodes of the technology benefit from the insight and intuition of the human.

Mechanical algorithms are unable to introspect in the ways that humans are, not for reasons of low complexity – more as a function of being a different kind and radiative speciation of complexity. For this reason, although not only for this reason, the machines will never completely make humans redundant. Similarly, though, and for reasons of endemic human failure and psychological fallibility, we will take the machines along with us on many and varied futile adventures of conflict and war. It is, sadly, in our nature to do so and it is also the essence of technological metamorphosis to unknowingly yet profitable leverage our collectove as much as individual bias towards the endless reproduction of emotional and psychological discontinuity.

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