Machine guns, death rays, lasers and yes – computers! Welcome to the new US Navy! The US Navy is undergoing an overhaul and the overhaul sounds a bit more like a cross between Dr. Evil and Star Wars than it does actual reality. The catch is that the future is now and thanks to computers the Navy is transforming itself into what some say is going to be a leaner, meaner stronger and smarter fighting machine – or protective unit depending on who you are selling the concept to. All of it hinges on computers and their programmers.
It used to be reality that men who sweat and oozed blood had to man the guns on the deck of a ship. Someone had to aim the gun and pull the trigger as well as another someone to keep feeding guns ammunition. The machine gun has always been the classic example of this. Then the day came when guns could be fired via a remote control so no actual human had to stand on the deck. Eventually guns became “smarter” with a computer deciding not only when and where to fire but the rate of fire. Who needs a human?
60 years ago that would have been considered the stuff of Sci-Fi, but it became a reality. 30 years ago lasers where nothing more than a cool light saber type thing used to fight Darth Vader for most people – but now the laser is a part of everyday life that nobody bats an eye at. That’s why it should not sound so crazy that Boeing and BAE are using some of the finest minds in computer programming along with top engineers to develop what could be the first publicly acknowledged, working, “death ray.”
As phenomenal as the hardware is, it is so complex requiring absolute precision that it has to be effectively handled by a machine. There will be no Luke and Han Solo hanging out in pods blasting one laser shot after another. The modern vision will be a computer looking not much different from any other model running thousands of calculations to pinpoint one small dot on a target that will allow for destruction with as little collateral damage as possible. No human could hope to be so precise and steely nerved. It is all possible only because software engineers and mobile communications have become so advanced that the hardware that was once only a dream can now be reality.