Technologies that revolutionized war


Artificial Intelligence experts warned of the dangerous "revolution" that could occur if lethal autonomous weapons are developed. What other inventions have changed the way battles are fought?

Artificial Intelligence: "The third revolution"

More than 100 Artificial Intelligence (AI) experts wrote to the UN calling for a ban on lethal autonomous weapons, those that use AI to act independently. While there are no "killer robots," technology has advanced to a point where it makes them possible. Experts say it would be the "third revolution", after gunpowder and atomic bombs.


The "first revolution" was invented by the Chinese, who began using the black substance between the 10th and 12th centuries to propel projectiles into simple weapons. Gunpowder slowly spread across the Middle East and Europe over the next several centuries. Once perfected, powder firearms were shown to be more lethal than traditional bows and arrows.


Gunpowder also introduced artillery pieces to the battlefields. Armies began using basic cannons in the 16th century to fire heavy metal balls at rival soldiers and to break through the defensive walls of cities and fortresses. The most destructive field weapons emerged in the 19th century and wreaked havoc in the First World War.

Machine guns

Weapons that fire multiple rounds in rapid succession were invented in the late 1800s. Machine guns, as they became known, allowed soldiers to shoot down enemies from a protected position. The shocking effectiveness of the weapon became apparent in World War I, as both sides used them to take down soldiers advancing through no-man's-land.


Strategists did not ignore the invention of the first airplane, in 1903. Six years later, the US Armed Forces purchased the first military aircraft, the Wright Military Flyer. The inventors experimented with more advanced fighter jets and bombers in the following years. Both became standard weapons in many of the Air Forces established after the First War.


Armies had traditionally used soldiers and horses to fight and transport military equipment. But, in World War I, they began to use more machinery, such as tanks and armed vehicles. The result was faster and more destructive weapons. Nazi Germany turned this mechanized warfare into a devastating attack strategy known as "Blitzkrieg."


Although artillery was effective, it had a limited range of action. The invention of missiles, in WWII, allowed armies to strike targets hundreds of km away. The first rocket, the German V-2, was primitive, but it was the foundation stone for the development of guided missiles and intercontinental ballistics (ICBM), capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

Motor to reaction

Jet planes first came into action at the end of World War II. These engines increased the speed of the ships, allowing them to reach their targets more quickly and being less vulnerable to enemy attacks. After the Second War, reconnaissance aircraft were developed that could fly more than 25 km high and exceed the speed of sound.

Nuclear weapons

The second revolution announced its terrible arrival on August 6, 1945, when the United States dropped the first atomic bomb ("Little Boy") on Hiroshima, Japan, killing between 60,000 and 80,000 people instantly. In the Cold War, the US and the Soviet Union developed thousands of even more destructive warheads and broadened the spectrum of devastation from a potential nuclear war.


In recent decades, the use of computers to conduct wars has become more and more frequent. These devices have made communications faster and easier and improved the accuracy and efficiency of many weapons. The military has focused on developing cyber warfare capabilities to defend infrastructure and attack adversaries in cyberspace.

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