Will robots and AI allow small nations to compete against larger ones?

This is a question that makes me ask myself if the global political and economic power of the world will massively change in the future. For all of human history up until this point 2 things were needed for a nation to be successful on the world stage: Manpower and resources to feed industry. This is why every superpower in history has had a large or at least a decent population. It’s really just a simple matter of math: More people: More output from the nation’s factories and also more taxpayers.

But with the advent of AI and robots, I wonder if this basic economic law will be turned on it’s head. Not only will robots make it possible to expand the economy without population growth (or even in-spite of negative population growth), but having a large population will actually become a burden! Think about it, which state is more likely to have the economic and military advantage: A large nation with a large robot force, or a small nation with an equally large robot force? Even if both had similar amount of robots the former will have to waste more of it’s resources on feeding and housing it’s people, where as the smaller nation is free to to just build more war machines and or other industries that aren’t needed for it’s own people.

Take for example nations like Canada which control huge regions of land and have lots of resources, and yet don’t have a massive population. Could a nation like that become a major power because of AI and robots sometime this late century?


You can definitely see big and small Asian nations with huge factory bases leapfrogging western ‘services economies’. So I’d look to the usual suspects in Asia to be leaders / masters of this area. Some of the know-how and designs will still be done in the west, but not enough to save those economies probably… That’s why economists are modelling this out right now with notions of minimum or universal-basic-income etc.

But I wouldn’t lose sleep over it. For starters AI is hyped as hell at the moment. Its definitely coming and the change will be huge, but not in the timeframe big-media implies, as there are still major problems to be solved. Take self-driving cars for example. Experts privately admit (but only when pushed), that to work alongside conventional vehicles, some upgrade to the transport system in most cities will be required, and that kind of change takes time…

But if you’re asking with there be a power shift? Definitely! We’ll all be working for the Chinese someday. :stuck_out_tongue: America has lost its mojo and Europe has structural economic problems that seem unsolvable. Latam? Peddling along, but not going to set the world alight anytime soon. India? One to watch… Africa? One to watch too apparently. Auz / NZ and surrounds plus ME? No idea! Just 2c from having spent time in North-America / South-America / Europe and a brief stint in Asia…

Such a robot army would require a huge economical, research, manufacturing, and logistics background to get operated effectively, and very safe communication and navigation. Since I’m from a tiny European country, I see more fantasy in the research of taking control over the robot army of another country :slight_smile: or at least disturb them so much to disable their communication and command lines, while a small elite human force can destroy them fast. So imo human and robot armies should be operated in parallel in near future.

Not sure about Asia becoming a superpower. Well perhaps Japan could, but probably not China because their massive population will become a burden.

I’m sure an E.L.E. will happen soon. So, no need to think about this.

Short Answer is No. Its the Humans running those Governments holding them back. No form of technology can change that until they empower their people to use it for good.

Not until we have batteries with higher energy to mass ratio than chemical fuels. And currently batteries are nowhere near that. Else imagine somebody starting every single combustion engine in that army just before attack. Or conditions like ww2 eastern front during winter, I would love to see those robots there marching as planned.

For eg in us army Tooth to Tail ratio is 80% to 20%. So those very expensive and complicated robots will not change much. Unless we get something like “universal assembler” ie. 100% automated factory that can produce everything from raw materials. But then war over some silly things on planet Earth is pointless, if i had such factory i would send it to moon or asteroid belt. Kickstart economy there, be first to conquer that instead of down here.