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The importance of skill in ever more advanced wars. 
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Post Re: The importance of skill in ever more advanced wars.
dragoongfa wrote:
EDIT2: So in essence in order to replace a modern US marine you have to provide a robot that can everything a US marine does with a lower initial cost and lower yearly maintenance. To completely make soldiers obsolete you have to be able to cheaply and effectively replace conscripts.


I think a government that issues its own currency will just have unlimited money, but there is a time cost to set up relevant facilities.

Seeing as how eating and breeding are the main goals of our species, we'll probably have more facilities set up to produce humans at any given time. They make good filler for any robotics we don't have time to produce.

It could be that humans go insane and decide that eating and breeding are not the main goals of our species, though. I've heard some people suggest this. They are pretty scary. But, if that doesn't happen, I don't really see a future where flesh and blood soldiers aren't used to a significant degree just to operate stuff that we don't have time to build robotics for.


Fri Jul 03, 2015 1:45 am
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Post Re: The importance of skill in ever more advanced wars.
Kava wrote:
dragoongfa wrote:
EDIT2: So in essence in order to replace a modern US marine you have to provide a robot that can everything a US marine does with a lower initial cost and lower yearly maintenance. To completely make soldiers obsolete you have to be able to cheaply and effectively replace conscripts.


I think a government that issues its own currency will just have unlimited money

Somewhere, an economist cries

Printing money causes inflation, which lowers the currency's value. This is why money only normally gets printed to replace money that has worn out or gotten lost.

Basically, unlimited money means no one can buy anything.

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Mon Jul 06, 2015 3:46 am
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Post Re: The importance of skill in ever more advanced wars.
RedDwarfIV wrote:
Kava wrote:
dragoongfa wrote:
EDIT2: So in essence in order to replace a modern US marine you have to provide a robot that can everything a US marine does with a lower initial cost and lower yearly maintenance. To completely make soldiers obsolete you have to be able to cheaply and effectively replace conscripts.


I think a government that issues its own currency will just have unlimited money

Somewhere, an economist cries

Printing money causes inflation, which lowers the currency's value. This is why money only normally gets printed to replace money that has worn out or gotten lost.

Basically, unlimited money means no one can buy anything.


Fanatism can beat economic models. Most of us have by now heard of the Islamic state and it's behaviour of horrific executions for things most people agree on isn't even crimes. A regime that behave like that, not on religoues grounds but economical can in essence outlaw inflation. They can "print" all the money they want and simply kill anyone that jack up their prices in response. It may make importing goods a bit difficult thou but if ones military strength is enough, well you just need nukes and good delivery systems and your money will always be good.

No I do not support this kind of behaviour but I do think that a ruthless regime may get away with it, at least for a while.


Mon Jul 06, 2015 5:35 am
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Post Re: The importance of skill in ever more advanced wars.
Sweforce wrote:

Fanatism can beat economic models. Most of us have by now heard of the Islamic state and it's behaviour of horrific executions for things most people agree on isn't even crimes. A regime that behave like that, not on religoues grounds but economical can in essence outlaw inflation. They can "print" all the money they want and simply kill anyone that jack up their prices in response. It may make importing goods a bit difficult thou but if ones military strength is enough, well you just need nukes and good delivery systems and your money will always be good.


That is inherently an unstable system requiring the use of force to maintain, which is bound to collapse either from without when a stable and sane power is brought to bear against them or from within as internal schisms between 'moderates' and fanatics fight it out in the only way they know how; violently. It also promotes the existence of a barter economy that bypasses the enforced currency entirely, further relegating such measures as pointless.

You can't have nukes without a stable economy and you can't have a stable economy with hyper-inflation on one hand and tightly controlled prices on the other. Fanatacism only works when you exist in a power vacuum and eschew modern economies; which ISIS currently does by way of the gold standard, which is more or less the complete and total opposite of printing infinite fiat currency.

For an example of a currency that currently indulges the "INFINITY DOLLARS!" approach to paying to for things, see the Zimbabwe Dollar.

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Mon Jul 06, 2015 6:00 am
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Post Re: The importance of skill in ever more advanced wars.
Razor One wrote:
Sweforce wrote:

Fanatism can beat economic models. Most of us have by now heard of the Islamic state and it's behaviour of horrific executions for things most people agree on isn't even crimes. A regime that behave like that, not on religoues grounds but economical can in essence outlaw inflation. They can "print" all the money they want and simply kill anyone that jack up their prices in response. It may make importing goods a bit difficult thou but if ones military strength is enough, well you just need nukes and good delivery systems and your money will always be good.


That is inherently an unstable system requiring the use of force to maintain, which is bound to collapse either from without when a stable and sane power is brought to bear against them or from within as internal schisms between 'moderates' and fanatics fight it out in the only way they know how; violently. It also promotes the existence of a barter economy that bypasses the enforced currency entirely, further relegating such measures as pointless.

You can't have nukes without a stable economy and you can't have a stable economy with hyper-inflation on one hand and tightly controlled prices on the other. Fanatacism only works when you exist in a power vacuum and eschew modern economies; which ISIS currently does by way of the gold standard, which is more or less the complete and total opposite of printing infinite fiat currency.

For an example of a currency that currently indulges the "INFINITY DOLLARS!" approach to paying to for things, see the Zimbabwe Dollar.


The do not need to build nukes, just have them. It would be a bloody system and the barter system would have to be very much underground or those that participate in it would be facing the firing squad rapidly. Yes it would be unstable but it could work for a while. The real danger is in the fanatics taking over a well working society and run it as far as they can. Modern surveillance technology is very hard to hide from. This is basically the one reason why I want to stay away from those things. A benign regime could build and use it for good but if they fall to be taken over by an authoritarian regime they may use it to perputate their existence. There will never be a revulotion to topple them, all attempts will fail due to the systems efficiency. The nukes are to prevent outside powers from trying to take them down.


Mon Jul 06, 2015 6:41 am
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Post Re: The importance of skill in ever more advanced wars.
You are overestimating the power of nukes and underestimating the lengths human societies will go once push comes to shove.

It's understandable for western nations that haven't seen a real war for a good 70 years by now, the current young generation of the west (early 20s) is the first generation ever whose parents and grandparents haven't seen or fought in a total war. I can go in depth if it is so desired but I will just put it like this:

If ISIS or other regional equivalent does something really stupid against the powers of Western Europe, Western Europe will hit back harder and in ways that will eclipse WW2 campaigns. The human species is not known for its benevolence when hit, what we are known for is hitting back, harder.

For an example, a nuke fired against France by ISIS will be retaliated with numerous French nukes on ISIS 'strongholds' almost immediately, something that will immediately be followed by mass deportations of any and all french muslims which are suspected of being a proponent of radical Islam. These will include any who will protest against the French retaliation.

It won't go that far, no one is that stupid, if ISIS was suspected of even trying to get their hands on a nuke there would be immediate ground intervention, like the intervention against Iraq's attack on Kuwait in 1991.

TL;DR: Don't fear the fanatic, fear the scared democracies.

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Mon Jul 06, 2015 9:24 am
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Post Re: The importance of skill in ever more advanced wars.
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The do not need to build nukes, just have them.


How do they get them? If we take ISIS as your go to example, the only regional powers with nukes are Israel, Pakistan, and potentially Iran. Israel and Iran aren't going to sell ISIS nukes because they're natural enemies. Pakistan won't either, because they're rather concerned with remaining in power.

Nukes aren't things that get passed around like candy. They're difficult to make and require a massive and solid infrastructure to create. They can also be traced back to their maker, which in turn invites retaliation both military and economic against the person who sells ISIS the nukes.

Quote:

It would be a bloody system and the barter system would have to be very much underground or those that participate in it would be facing the firing squad rapidly. Yes it would be unstable but it could work for a while.



The Soviet Union couldn't control their economy to the degree needed to stamp out barter, and they were a totalitarian state behind an iron curtain. The problem with making barter a capital crime in a ruined economy is that you wind up having to execute everyone. If everyone is dead, or at the very least enough are dead that you can kill barter, you've also killed yourself off as you likely have too small a population to resist outside invasion or avoid further population collapse.

Quote:

The real danger is in the fanatics taking over a well working society and run it as far as they can.



There's the rub. Fanatics aren't usually in a position to take over a well working society. There's a reason you find them only in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and various other failed states around the world. Short of a broad populist uprising, fanatics would find themselves quickly ousted, if not by the legitimate power of the country than by the people they wish to oppress at large.

Quote:

Modern surveillance technology is very hard to hide from. This is basically the one reason why I want to stay away from those things. A benign regime could build and use it for good but if they fall to be taken over by an authoritarian regime they may use it to perputate their existence. There will never be a revulotion to topple them, all attempts will fail due to the systems efficiency. The nukes are to prevent outside powers from trying to take them down.


Modern surveillance technology is nowhere near that good. For one, you need to be able to watch everyone, everywhere, at all times. Handwaving the huge infrastructural investiture this would require, you'd need people to watch all the surveillance feeds and then have people watching those watchers, and people watching them, and people watching them, and so on and so forth.

The inherent problem with a total surveillance state is that you need more watchers than there are people for it to even begin to be effective. The best you could ever manage would be the illusion of an effective total surveillance state, and this is making huge allowances, since under the scenario where we have fanatics printing infinite money, people are likely to go scavenging the copper wire used for the surveillance systems to barter for food. It's a self correcting problem.

So too is the nuclear option. Nukes can't stop other nations from slugging you with economic sanctions, the economy that is already in ruins thanks to printing infinite money and now further isolated by such sanctions. No country is fully self sufficient anymore, your people would have to take yet another hit to their quality of life, which in turn could mean anything between starvation to open rebellion. A regime such as you would suggest would also almost certainly have enemies, and the spooks would be working at full tilt to ensure that the nuclear armed psycho's become disarmed and dead psycho's as fast as humanly possible.

The only society that comes anywhere near the posited scenario is North Korea; a regime that maintains its power through two methods. The first is by keeping their people as ignorant of the outside world as possible whilst force feeding them propaganda from the cradle to the grave, and the second is because China does not want to share a land border with a country aligned with US interests and doesn't give a fuck about North Korea beyond that. North Korea only works because someone larger, more stable, and with a vested interest is supporting them. They might extort some aid out of the USA now and then by threatening South Korea, but by and large it's a small region that requires larger externalities to even exist. And to wit, North Korea can't even stop a barter economy, even with a fanatical population and an iron fist.

Next to revolutionary fanatics like ISIS, North Korea is a blazing genius. At least the Norks know to play both sides to their own benefit and don't rock the boat too much when it comes to their grand dickwaving displays, so far at least. A fanatical group like ISIS would never have the wherewithal to backpedal, tone things down or otherwise play the geopolitical game for their own benefit. Any regime they setup would inevitably engage in brinkmanship that would result in their getting shitcanned by their neighbours or a global alliance in a very short, very swift war, followed by the requisite decades of occupation which, since this is the middle east we're talking about in this particular scenario, is only going to become another quagmire for as long as the seeds of fanaticism keep getting sown by incompetent leaders.

Fanatics are not a danger on the level that nation states operate at. Fanatics are a danger on the individual level, which is why terrorism is a thing. Western democracies are geared towards the empowerment of the individual, which is why the fanatic is so effective at instilling terror and inspiring the freedom loving western democracies to curtail the freedoms they once championed. Fanatics are only a threat to individuals and their rights, it is only in failed states that they are ever able to garner even a scrap of the territorial control that nation states enjoy, and even then, they only exist at the sufferance of their neighbours.

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Mon Jul 06, 2015 10:29 am
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Post Re: The importance of skill in ever more advanced wars.
The chances of IS acquiring nukes are slim and if they do, chances are they have a rotten delivery system for it. I mentioned them as a current era example of a regime run by fanatics. A century from now however, stuff that are exidingly hard to aquire may be disturbingly common. And nukes are really just meant as a way to scare others to leave you be. Why haven't we toppled North Korea for instance? Not even their long term ally China likes them anymore.


Mon Jul 06, 2015 11:51 am
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Post Re: The importance of skill in ever more advanced wars.
I resisted posting this before, but in hindsight, it might have cleared things up a little.

Governments can and do take advantage of their ability to literally print money to pay off some of their debts--virtually every power does this in moderation--but it's true that if your debts are more than half of your total currency volume, you'll never be able to pay them off this way, because by the time you've printed it all, it'll be worth less than half as much as it was when you started. Though they might not realize you're doing this in time to react to it, that means you're depending on them not still demanding more payment while complaining you cheated them. Either way, if this is abused, anyone who depends on the currency is likely to be a bit bothered when all of their life's savings are devalued by half. It encourages people to hoard things like precious metals and avoid maintaining electronic bank accounts, since their value might decrease at the issuing government's whim, which slows down economic growth. Arbitrarily setting prices is going to slow down the economy, too. The only long-term solution (at least when you're limited to human means, and don't have godlike computer intelligences that you can trust to run everything by predicting and manipulating everyone in the whole system) is to remain trustworthy.

Being able to use force is still important; an issuing government that's extremely powerful (due to having a strong military, lots of blackmail material, fanatically devoted subjects, or whatever) is able to keep their currency strong long after an equivalent institution without these advantages would get torn apart by its creditors. A strong military or a popular government can keep a currency strong even when it's being devalued a bit, just due to peoples' perceptions.

Still, it's much easier to simply not pay debts than to pay them all by printing out more money--the easiest way to have unlimited money is to promise to give it to people without actually handing it over. Just look at the United States: There is only 1.37 trillion USD in circulation, but the national debt is 18.63 trillion! That means the government has managed to spend 13.6 times as much of its money as actually exists, let alone how much it has! (Modern banks tend to 'loan out' about ten times as much money as they actually have in reserve, too.)

So, anyway, being able to literally make money isn't the better part of keeping people happy and working for you. If the value of their pensions devaluate and it gets harder to pay their expenses (which still happens even if prices are fixed, due to shortages and supply chain disruptions), there's no improvement for them! So, it's important to do more practical things, too. (Like building gigantic, impressive super-weapons to increase morale. Let's not get too practical.)

A funny thing about high-tech societies is that when technology lets one person do the work of many, their wages go up accordingly, and they expect better accommodations. When that happens to enough people, the bar that's set for the minimum standard of living goes up, too. It gets more expensive to educate everyone, even with better methods, because everyone expects to be paid more for their work, and expects to live better than ever before. And eventually, even people whose jobs aren't significantly aided by technology demand wages dozens of times greater than they would have received in a pre-industrial society.

The ultimate impact of this, is that the whole idea of people being cheaper than robots depends on the society they're living in making the assumption that these people have no potential to operate that kind of technology. If you want reasonably inexpensive human soldiers, they have to be from a world or a discrete social class whose people are not permitted to control the level of automation that a society that is even capable of producing robots that could potentially replace them presumably has.

If the society assumes that everyone will receive the training they need to take advantage of mass production, mass media, and other advancements that increase productivity exponentially, and it also supports those who don't have or don't use these privileges, everyone will expect higher pay as technology improves, even if the advancements don't increase their personal productivity that much. So, for examples, even if the advancements are in fields like fusion power or ocean-going transportation, that soldiers on an antimatter-powered spaceship aren't directly effected by.

So, if you want a robot army to get fielded, make sure your society promises equality for everyone (except robots), and has no sort of caste system! If you've got haves, who are using nanotech manufacturing, and have-nots, who are banging things with a hammer, the latter group will still make cheap soldiers to carry all the personal combat gear you're producing, and as a bonus they'll be able to perform certain field repairs without needing a sensitive computer and a tube filled with miniature robots. It doesn't make it cheaper to keep them fed, but they might be less picky about their food, and put up with sleeping in a windowless 8' metal cube instead of expecting a full suite with fountains and TV screens on every wall.

The ultimate extension of this would be if the robot soldiers were expected to be given same rights as everyone else, in which case it's anyone's guess who the government could actually afford to throw out onto the battlefield. I guess it'd have to be as non-anthropomorphic as possible, though you might have people lobbying against building robots that aren't lovable.

Eventually, you can probably get technology that manages to make 'people' more efficiently in terms of per-capita energy requirements than is possible for any naturally occurring species, but by that time, you've probably broken down all the categories that modern humans use to classify things as 'living' or 'machine' and 'organic' or 'artificial', anyway.


Mon Jul 06, 2015 12:10 pm
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Post Re: The importance of skill in ever more advanced wars.
Sweforce wrote:
The chances of IS acquiring nukes are slim and if they do, chances are they have a rotten delivery system for it. I mentioned them as a current era example of a regime run by fanatics. A century from now however, stuff that are exidingly hard to aquire may be disturbingly common. And nukes are really just meant as a way to scare others to leave you be. Why haven't we toppled North Korea for instance? Not even their long term ally China likes them anymore.


Surprising as it may be, the reason why NK is allowed to be the wild dog is SK and how rich it is. Simply put, SK is just too important in the big picture in order to be allowed to be economically derailed by a war with NK and the subsequent occupation of a very backwards populace. Make no mistake, SK would win on its own against NK but the economic cost which would quickly spread out is the deciding factor in keeping NK alive. South Korea is just to damn important to be allowed to be dragged in a conflict which would be a huge global economic hit.

If SK was poorer or had less of a global economic footprint, then NK would have been taken care of the moment China would give the green light.

The nukes themselves can be knocked out one way or the other, the problem is the money.

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Mon Jul 06, 2015 12:22 pm
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Post Re: The importance of skill in ever more advanced wars.
The ultimate in nearly impossible to topple autharian regimes I have encountered was in a sci fi roleplaying game. A whole planet whose population was equipped with explosive collars. Topple the government and everybody dies. Since nobody wanted to be responsible for killing a planetful of people, nobody from the outside bothered to try to topple them. As I recall they where the religious fanatics kind of government.


Mon Jul 06, 2015 1:33 pm
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Post Re: The importance of skill in ever more advanced wars.
RedDwarfIV wrote:
Kava wrote:
dragoongfa wrote:
EDIT2: So in essence in order to replace a modern US marine you have to provide a robot that can everything a US marine does with a lower initial cost and lower yearly maintenance. To completely make soldiers obsolete you have to be able to cheaply and effectively replace conscripts.


I think a government that issues its own currency will just have unlimited money

Somewhere, an economist cries

Printing money causes inflation, which lowers the currency's value. This is why money only normally gets printed to replace money that has worn out or gotten lost.

Basically, unlimited money means no one can buy anything.


Not really. Money's true value is nothing, so inflation is just a convoluted explanation for people waking up and realizing it.

Okay, so it might seem a little funny/ignorant to suggest infinite dollars, but that's what's available to a government. There is no limit.

You get paid, you get taxed. You get paid more, you get taxed more. If the government forgets to raise taxes, the money's fake value is eroded by inflation. End result is the same. Everyone works hard on war machines but get poorer because war machines have no value and money has no value. But, if you aren't working on war machines, you're even poorer because the government can print that extra money to be a more competitive employer.

But it doesn't matter how poor people are, anyway. There will be no strike allowed at the steel factories.

So, the only thing that really matters are finite resources in an advanced war. How quickly factories can be built, how much iron can be processed, what humans are available to replace robots that can't be built in time, and so on.

Interesting to think about, anyway. I don't know everything there is to know about economics, but I can't think of a reason why money would be a limiting factor in a war.


Mon Jul 13, 2015 10:56 pm
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Post Re: The importance of skill in ever more advanced wars.
hi hi

Define True Value. Is this an objective measurement you can take of an object or item? If so, how do you measure the True Value of an item? What is the unit of measurement for True Value, and is it recognized by the International Organization for Standardization?


Tue Jul 14, 2015 12:25 am
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Post Re: The importance of skill in ever more advanced wars.
Kava wrote:
Not really. Money's true value is nothing, so inflation is just a convoluted explanation for people waking up and realizing it.

Okay, so it might seem a little funny/ignorant to suggest infinite dollars, but that's what's available to a government. There is no limit.

You get paid, you get taxed. You get paid more, you get taxed more. If the government forgets to raise taxes, the money's fake value is eroded by inflation. End result is the same. Everyone works hard on war machines but get poorer because war machines have no value and money has no value. But, if you aren't working on war machines, you're even poorer because the government can print that extra money to be a more competitive employer.

But it doesn't matter how poor people are, anyway. There will be no strike allowed at the steel factories.

So, the only thing that really matters are finite resources in an advanced war. How quickly factories can be built, how much iron can be processed, what humans are available to replace robots that can't be built in time, and so on.

Interesting to think about, anyway. I don't know everything there is to know about economics, but I can't think of a reason why money would be a limiting factor in a war.
During the weimar republic and suffering under the versailles treaty Germany's inflation rose through the roof.
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Children used stacks of money for playing, people used it to insulate the walls of their houses or even to burn to keep themselves warm. When the paper you print money on is more expensive than the money value it represents you are in trouble lol

If salaries don't keep up with price rises middle class people fall into poverty and poor people may not be able to feed themselves and their families. Continue long enough and you will starve your whole society to death.

No, money is a limiting factor in a war for sure.


Tue Jul 14, 2015 6:02 am
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Post Re: The importance of skill in ever more advanced wars.
Kava wrote:

Not really. Money's true value is nothing, so inflation is just a convoluted explanation for people waking up and realizing it.

Okay, so it might seem a little funny/ignorant to suggest infinite dollars, but that's what's available to a government. There is no limit.



In strictly hypothetical terms, you are correct, there is no real 'limit' to how much money the government can print.

In practical terms though, you're completely wrong on all accounts. Fiat currency does have backing in the form of trust. Trust that loans will be repaid, trust that the money will have value, trust that the economy will remain stable and that a dollar today is dollar tomorrow, even if it may not necessarily be exactly a dollar next week.

In general, the money supply is finite and limited. That, in addition to trust, is what gives money its value. There are only so many dollars out there. You get a piece of that by doing valuable work, which in turn is valued based on how important it is in terms of supply and demand. Work that is high in demand commands higher pay than work that is in low demand. Externally, other economies also factor into this. There is only so much yen. There are only so many euros. Economies and loans take place, currency exchanges can be taken advantage of in market speculation.

If you decide to print infinite money, you begin to do damage to the system that exists. Firstly is that you begin to devalue your currency relative to others. If you triple the number of dollars in the economy, your purchasing power drops by a third. This impacts your ability to import goods from foreign economies, since now you need to pay much more. It also damages your people's savings pensions and anyone living on a fixed income, making it impossible for them to really survive. Suddenly printing all that money out of nowhere damages the stability of the economy, which weakens trust, which further devalues your dollars. In practical terms, people shift their investments into more stable economies and charge you higher interest on your loans, which means you've actually worsened your position simply by printing off an unsustainable amount of cash all at once.

You can treble the amount of dollars in an economy by doing it over a few decades. This makes the shifts in the economy sustainable over the long term, since fixed incomes can be gradually adjusted, inflation can be taken into account by the market, which will find a new equilibrium over time. Printing infinite money over a short period of time allows none of these factors to take place, which makes you a destabilising force and more likely to crash and burn rather than solving the problem.

Quote:

You get paid, you get taxed. You get paid more, you get taxed more. If the government forgets to raise taxes, the money's fake value is eroded by inflation. End result is the same. Everyone works hard on war machines but get poorer because war machines have no value and money has no value. But, if you aren't working on war machines, you're even poorer because the government can print that extra money to be a more competitive employer.



I've had to read this several times and I cannot understand precisely what your logic here is. You seem to be labouring under the point that money is worthless (trust and confidence are not worthless in a modern economy) and that taxation somehow removes money from the economy (it doesn't) and that people profit from the results of their work instead of because of their work (they don't).

Workers in factories don't get paid by commission on every warbot they make. They get paid by the hour (or a fixed salary with adjustments) regardless of how many warbots they make. If the government wants to incentivise warbot production, they generally do this via tax breaks for the corporations producing the warbots. If we're assuming a nationalised program, the formula changes, but workers still get paid, and usually get paid better than private sector workers.

It's actually more practical for the government to issue war bonds rather than to print money. In fact, the standard practice is to issue war bonds and then only print more money if you're completely desperate. War bonds are better than printing money, since they allow for government expenditure without increasing the money supply and in fact remove money from the economy. They allow people to invest in the war effort on their own accord and reap the repayments, and the profits, after the war is over without screwing the economy. A government not in a position to pay its war bonds down the road is likely to be a conquered nation, making both its economy and currency moot.

Quote:

So, the only thing that really matters are finite resources in an advanced war. How quickly factories can be built, how much iron can be processed, what humans are available to replace robots that can't be built in time, and so on.

Interesting to think about, anyway. I don't know everything there is to know about economics, but I can't think of a reason why money would be a limiting factor in a war.


No nation is fully self sufficient, even in a war. You still need to trade with your partners for necessary supply and material that you can't get yourself in order to keep your war machine going. Your war machine is fueled by your economy. If you're busy putting sugar in the gas tank by printing infinite money, your war machine will stall, crash, and burn in quick succession, leading to you becoming a conquered nation in short order.

Money is finite because the economy is finite. It's a tool we use to place an arbitrary value on a good or service in order to ease methods of exchange. In olden times, it was backed by gold or silver on the basis that it was shiny, didn't tarnish, and wasn't much useful for anything else. We abandoned the gold standard because there is a finite amount of gold we can extract and the growth of the economy was outpacing the growth of gold, which lead to a shortage of money supply and a major lack of fluidity in markets as a result. The primary backing today is consumer confidence and trust that the money is worth what we say it is.

Trust and confidence drive the economy; where it is strong you can borrow obscene amounts of money and still come out on top. Case in point, the US debt is trillions of dollars. Other countries loaned that money to the United States... and pay them for the privilege of loaning them that money. To clarify this point, there is effectively a negative interest rate on loans to the United States because people are THAT confident they will be repaid. To put it even more clearly; for every dollar the US borrows, it only has to pay back fifty cents down the road. Because there is confidence and trust that the US will always be able to pay its debts with dividends down the road, it can get away with this. Actions that damage that confidence, such as political maneuvers that threaten the budgetary stability of the US, raise this interest rate and cost the US treasury more by dint of increased interest payments than it would if it were to borrow yet more money on top of its trillions in debt.

The global financial crisis of 2008 and was precipitated by a destruction of trust, albeit a misplaced one due to slackened legislation on issuing loans, in consumers of the housing market to repay their debts. This had immense knock on consequences that has damaged the economy to this day. Trust is the value of modern currency, not a shiny piece of metal, and actions that damage the trust placed into it was what truly makes fiat currency worthless. If you feel that trust is a bit of a nebulous thing to back a currency with, consider this next time you get behind the wheel. You trust that the people that made the car didn't skimp on the safety features, you trust that the people on the other side of the road won't decide to swerve and try to kill you, you trust that the road is well maintained, you trust that the gas station isn't watering down its fuel, you trust that your employer will pay you on time and you trust that the bank will not run away with your hard earned money.

If your life, everything you do and everything you own can be backed by trust, so can your money.

So... getting back to the main topic **cough** the economy is essentially a massive system for managing resources on the basis of supply and demand. Money oils that system up so it functions smoothly. Too little oil, the gears stick, the whole thing grinds to a halt. Too much and the gears slip, spinning endlessly and doing no work. You need to carefully manage the money supply to keep things ticking over just right. Any government will have the necessary tools to ensure that the economy functions smoothly in a war footing, from issuing war bonds, borrowing money from their allied partners, and in the worst case scenario, yes, printing more as necessary. Time, precious resources, skilled personnel, are all things that get managed by the economy. A high demand for mechanical engineers will lead to more people applying for the necessary educational course to become them, as the pay rises due to limited supply and finds equilibrium as demands are met.

If you want to replace humans with robots on the battlefield, the demand for such robots must exceed the demand for humans. Cost is a factor that affects demand. If the robots cost less, the demand will be that much greater. If human lives are valued higher than a robots chassis, then that too will drive demand for robots on the battlefield. We can see this calculus at work with the deployment of drones as opposed to jet fighters in strike operations for modern warfare. Bipedal infantry style robots are likely still a few decades off, but once they can match humans on the battlefield, or at the very least come close with attendant cost factors in both terms of money and human resources, then you'll see them replacing human personnel en masse and the age of the professional soldier will be long gone. The most you'd have afterwards would be the officer corps, and by this point, you'd be gearing up to replacing them too unless there was a massive social pressure to keep humans in the loop for some reason.

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Tue Jul 14, 2015 6:53 am
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Post Re: The importance of skill in ever more advanced wars.
I think a lot of people also forget that for instance nazi germany was always on the very brink of economic collapse. Yes, the state was supporting a very large workforce, but it was always just ahead of insolvency.

One of the methods it used to get to get ahead was by very aggressive expansion, expatriation of funds and resources and overall acting a bit like a swarn of cicadas.

It really was tiered in a lot of ways. The first cash influx came from a fairly rich class within Germany itself, afterwards it began grabbing treasuries of countries it defeated, while keeping them sovereign in their own debts. It was really a byzantine system in a lot of ways.


Wed Jul 15, 2015 4:15 am
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Post Re: The importance of skill in ever more advanced wars.
Mr Bojangles wrote:
Game Theory wrote:
I know the reasons why you "shouldn't" use AI, and I disagree with all that I have heard of so far.

1) It's dangerous: Yes it is, to your enemy. You don't have to make an AGI to traverse terrain and pull a trigger, and considering that Umaki are Umaki and look nothing like Loroi, that makes it fully useful in large scale Napoleonic warfare and perhaps even urban fighting. (Assuming you don't care that Umaki civilians will die.)

2) It's hack-able: Than don't connect it to outside systems. So what if you can't make weekly updates android style, you'll be making new robots at the same rate.

3) It might malfunction: This is actually a serious one, but If you test them properly than you can just redesign whichever model didn't work out. Even if it goes berserk, it's be doing that when it's next to the enemy and next to expendable drones. You can just introduce the newest models into "low risk" situations like open ground combat on some desert world and than move it into civilian situations.

4) They're too expensive: I actually don't know about this one, but the software is the "game changing" portion of a robotic soldier so it should ideally cost less than large transport vehicles.


AI in warfare is definitely a tough topic to discuss. There are any number of ethical and philosophical arguments you could present for and against its use in war, but I think practical reasons are sufficient.

  1. Expense -
    Creating quality software is NEVER a simple process and the more you intend for the software to do, the less trivial it becomes to create. When you start adding in mil-spec requirements, it can become a positively Herculean task. And, now you want that software to be able to think for itself? It's going to be hideously expensive developing and deploying it.
  2. Malfunctions -
    This is part of the expense of developing quality software. The developers will never be able to think of every failure mode or every possible interaction of the code, both with itself and external inputs. No test they devise will catch every possible situation the software will encounter. The more free and dynamic the environment is meant to operate in, e.g., a warzone containing free agents (humans), the greater the likelihood of the software making incorrect decisions. And with a war AI a malfunction can equate to significant casualties.
  3. Hacking -
    That AI is going to have an outside connection: it's going to need to communicate with HQ and any soldiers it needs to interact with. You can encrypt the connection and harden its internal lines, but any opening can be exploited. This also builds on the previous points: A hack is equivalent to a malfunction and eliminating potential malfunctions is expensive. It's bad enough if your comms get hacked, but if your weaponized AI gets hacked...
  4. Dangerous -
    Well, this is sort of a loaded point. Anything meant to be a weapon is dangerous to someone, whether or not the weapon has intelligence built in. If an enemy combatant somehow managed to hack into the weapons control of an armed fly-by-wire aircraft, it doesn't matter that the aircraft can't think for itself. If the AI weapon malfunctions, that's not necessarily due to its intelligence, but more likely the software's complexity.

I think when it comes to AI on the battlefield, it's not really "you shouldn't." It's more a matter of "should you?" The fact is, an organic human brain provides everything such an AI would, but at a far reduced cost, a lower risk of malfunctions, and without risk of being hacked. The same can be said for any of the brains of any of the combatants involved in the primary conflict of Outsider.

Now, none of this is to say that I think it isn't possible or shouldn't be done. My research background is in AI, and if we ever manage to create something we recognize as sentient, it will likely be capable of thinking in terms of tactics and strategy. And, it's not like Outsider hasn't already shown us an example of an advanced AI - the Historians apparently trust their AIs enough to act as emissaries/diplomats (which, as was seen in another thread on this forum, can be quite the subtle and contentious undertaking).

Also, yes, exosuits are an awesome thing and I think they could be of some use in warfare, buuuut this post is more than long enough as it is. :)


The only way I can see AI being feasible and reliable enough for its intended use in direct combat is in a disposable locust swarm bomb fashion, rather than a direct and intelligent soldier replacement. At best insect intellect and no real need for IFF (can be spoofed/misdirected), or communications, since its orders never change. (ex; seek heat source % larger than self, close to x range, detonate!)

Not something you deploy in areas you intend to occupy with meat-bag forces simultaneously, more like something you scatter from orbit on an enemy world to allow it to wreak havoc until its intended obsolescence. Anything else is too ripe for exploitation and too expensive to lose or have turned on you. Machines even now can be programmed with far faster reflexes than humans, and if you add in human level or higher intellect on top of that you have exponential trouble incoming if it malfunctions.

Only way I can see to sidestep traditional robotics/AI issues for direct combat is to get more into the artificial life-form realm of design, which raises all sorts of long term ethical problems; plus potentially goes right back to having to deal with some of the vulnerabilities of meat-bags that one was trying to avoid.


Wed Jul 15, 2015 10:04 pm
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Post Re: The importance of skill in ever more advanced wars.
Honestly, I think the best use case scenario for AIs is in the form of neural networks for tactical and strategic computers.


Thu Jul 16, 2015 1:18 am
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Post Re: The importance of skill in ever more advanced wars.
Overkill Engine wrote:
The only way I can see AI being feasible and reliable enough for its intended use in direct combat is in a disposable locust swarm bomb fashion, rather than a direct and intelligent soldier replacement. At best insect intellect and no real need for IFF (can be spoofed/misdirected), or communications, since its orders never change. (ex; seek heat source % larger than self, close to x range, detonate!)

Not something you deploy in areas you intend to occupy with meat-bag forces simultaneously, more like something you scatter from orbit on an enemy world to allow it to wreak havoc until its intended obsolescence. Anything else is too ripe for exploitation and too expensive to lose or have turned on you. Machines even now can be programmed with far faster reflexes than humans, and if you add in human level or higher intellect on top of that you have exponential trouble incoming if it malfunctions.

Only way I can see to sidestep traditional robotics/AI issues for direct combat is to get more into the artificial life-form realm of design, which raises all sorts of long term ethical problems; plus potentially goes right back to having to deal with some of the vulnerabilities of meat-bags that one was trying to avoid.


Well, how you discriminate targets will be the determining factor in what level of AI you use. If you make no distinction between combatants and non-combatants, then a swarm of robots with insect-type intelligence would probably be fine. If you do differentiate targets, then that won't suffice. You'll need a more advanced AI for that, which runs into the issues addressed so far.

If you're going to deploy them from orbit, then they kind of become redundant. It implies that you have control over local space and if you're willing to deploy such machines, it'd be more efficient just to bombard targets of choice (since you don't care about who you're hitting). If you don't actually control local space, sending a swarm of robots down to the surface doesn't really net you anything.

It might be possible to grow an AI or an artificial lifeform for the battlefield. Doing so might reduce design, manufacturing and operational costs. It will likely also introduce control and performance issues. You may define the math and structure, but once you expose it to training and/or evolution, guaranteeing a particular set of behaviors is no simple task. You'll more than likely come full circle back to the issues you were trying to avoid (complexity, cost, robustness, vulnerability).

junk wrote:
Honestly, I think the best use case scenario for AIs is in the form of neural networks for tactical and strategic computers.


I think this is actually a very good use case for AI: to assist commanders with tactics and strategies. And it probably wouldn't have to be NN-based. You could use relatively simpler rule-based systems and leave the fuzzy thinking to the meat.


Thu Jul 16, 2015 2:27 am
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Post Re: The importance of skill in ever more advanced wars.
All this talk about costs, ethics, risks and such is all well and good until there is a battle for a planet in which an army loses a million or several million soldiers, which could have been reduced to a fraction with combat AI.
It's not just the loss of resources the death or incapacitating injury of a soldier is, or how AIs will be so much better than humans at fighting to a point the comparison is ridiculous, it's also the morale hit. Nobody wants to see thousands, hundreds of thousands or millions of bodybags, in particular their families back home, and the civil unrest this causes can topple governments, even dictatorial militaristic ones. Not the Loroi or Umiak due to the way their societies work and how they see the death of a soldier, but certainly the human government and some of the other Outsider nations' governments would be at risk.


Thu Jul 16, 2015 3:56 am
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Post Re: The importance of skill in ever more advanced wars.
You are 'modernizing' the way societies respond to combat casualties. Modern western societies are for all intents and purposes completely averse from war, something that sooner or later will come back and bite them in the ass.

The Soviets in WW2, lost around 8 to 10 million soldiers, the Germans 4 to 5,5 million, the Japanese 2,5 million. All of these societies didn't face any societal upheaval due to these severe casualties, quite the contrary all of the above had very stable governments even when they were near collapse.

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Thu Jul 16, 2015 4:28 am
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Post Re: The importance of skill in ever more advanced wars.
dragoongfa wrote:
You are 'modernizing' the way societies respond to combat casualties. Modern western societies are for all intents and purposes completely averse from war, something that sooner or later will come back and bite them in the ass.

The Soviets in WW2, lost around 8 to 10 million soldiers, the Germans 4 to 5,5 million, the Japanese 2,5 million. All of these societies didn't face any societal upheaval due to these severe casualties, quite the contrary all of the above had very stable governments even when they were near collapse.
Notice how I said
... an army loses a million or several million soldiers, which could have been reduced to a fraction with combat AI.

WW2 is a perfect example of how societies in total war would use every weapon at their disposal to minimize casualties and win. Mind you, their technology level didn't allow for much reduction but sure as hell they tried. Attempts at body armor, better vehicles, better weapons, medicine, research in all fields, and ultimately the nuclear bomb, which was used to end the war and avoid having to invade Japan (which could have cost the USA more than a million casualties). Many scientists believed the nuclear bomb could ignite the whole atmosphere but it was still tested and used, and so will AI in frontline military vehicles, total war or not (but sure as hell will be used if we have it and face a war of extermination).

WW2 russia had those numbers of casualties because they had to throw everything at the enemy or face genocide and a change in regime and their leadership didn't care about the loss of life as much as it cared about said change, and germany suffered those casualties when they became completely outnumbered in troops, tanks and airplanes and their leadership decided to stand their ground instead of using common sense. None had a choice but they did try to minimize losses as much as they could. The japanese were just plain retards using obsolete tactics and being too stuck in their ways to change them.
There was no choice for their societies but to accept those casualties, if they even knew the real numbers due to massive propaganda, and the leadership was trying to minimize casualties within their technological capabilities and stupidity.

Western societies are adverse to war and death because the memory of losing almost 40 million europeans and having whole countries flattened is still fresh in the collective memory of Europe and USA, and also social advances and higher living standards make people value life more, it's a natural process and one most societies would eventually reach and one from which I don't believe there will be any turning back.
Maybe not warrior societies, or hive-like societies where the individual doesn't count, but surely humanity from 140 years in the future will.


Thu Jul 16, 2015 8:34 am
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Post Re: The importance of skill in ever more advanced wars.
Of course all societies try to minimize war casualties, this has always happened throughout human history with no exception. My point isn't that, its that societies acclimated in war can and will tolerate high rates of casualties. I should make it clearer but WW2 combatants were all acclimated in war, one way or the other but the societies that were totally or partially adverse in war either lost (France) or had to be bailed out for a second time (UK).

As for turning back to that point, a pendulum of human morality has being observed throughout human history. Currently the western world is having a second 'peaceful' humanist period, the first being a sparse few decades after the Napoleonic wars and ended when Bismark became the Prussian Chancellor in the 1860's with the climax of the era that followed being the two world wars and the cold war. Our current era is also one of peaceful humanism, it started with the fall of the USSR and is a marked humanistic and post colonialist period. This era will end when the economic bubble in China bursts (very close now) and when the EU breaking point is reached (see the UK wanting to leave), events that will cause China to seek solutions for its domestic problems through other means and the EU to be replaced by a few power blocks due to internal and external pressures.

In short, when the breaking point of a societal lifestyle is reached, societal morality shifts back as a pendulum.

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Thu Jul 16, 2015 9:25 am
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Post Re: The importance of skill in ever more advanced wars.
icekatze wrote:
hi hi

Define True Value. Is this an objective measurement you can take of an object or item? If so, how do you measure the True Value of an item? What is the unit of measurement for True Value, and is it recognized by the International Organization for Standardization?


Should I take these questions seriously? True value just means something physical like food to sustain life. There are objective measurements of that, yes.

Money has an arbitrary value. We need a certain amount of food to live, but the amount of money that's supposedly equivalent in value to that food can change.


Thu Jul 16, 2015 5:00 pm
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Post Re: The importance of skill in ever more advanced wars.
Argron wrote:
Children used stacks of money for playing, people used it to insulate the walls of their houses or even to burn to keep themselves warm. When the paper you print money on is more expensive than the money value it represents you are in trouble lol

If salaries don't keep up with price rises middle class people fall into poverty and poor people may not be able to feed themselves and their families. Continue long enough and you will starve your whole society to death.

No, money is a limiting factor in a war for sure.


But it's simply not true that money is necessary to distribute food. So, money is not a limiting factor.


Thu Jul 16, 2015 5:08 pm
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