THE BLOG
10/11/2013 03:02 pm ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

AK-9

I want to share a vision of where we are heading, as a world. When I say "vision," I don't mean to say that I literally saw something. I just mean to say that I want to share some thoughts on where we might be heading as a world. But, first, allow me to zigzag a bit. You see, writing in a linear fashion is for others. But all writing -- as I see it -- is really for our own purposes. What they are is a different conversation, a different post. All I am saying: Allow me to be tangential for a moment.

The word "canine" has different meanings depending on where you walk your dog. When I take my German shepherd through the socio-economically rough pockets of Pittsburgh South Side "slopes," I frequently hear kids ask: "Hey, is that a canine?" At least, that's what the question sounds like in my own mind. But I bet in the mind of the kiddo that's asking me this question, the word isn't "canine," but "K-9." You know what I am talking about. You too have seen it on police cars. Just not nearly as much as these kids that I am talking about. Now, if I take my German shepherd down onto the more prosperous "flats" of the South Side, my German shepherd becomes mostly a "nice doggy." Now, leaping from this paragraph to the one that follows will take a bit of a mind-stretch. But let's just see what happens.

For years I used to think: "All weaponry eventually turns upon itself." This was the height of my cynicism. Or the height of my sobriety. Let me explain: As I would watch the world continue to get stuck in various forms of competition and combat, I'd think: "Historically, our days are numbered. Human civilization is doomed to wipe itself out." Rush not to enroll me under some doomsayer rubric -- If I am a doomsayer, I am a strange one -- in parallel to these predictions, I have also been consistently in love with this world of ours, calling it "perfectly imperfect," and cultivating a habit of accepting it just as it is.

Something changed for me the other day: On CNN (which by my standards is nothing more than a fast-updating, fast-self-revising online tabloid) there was a curious video. I don't remember the details but you've probably seen it too or can Google it when you are done reading this post. It was a video of a canine-looking machine that could run at the speed of 60 miles an hour and could climb hills as a kind of robotic mule. The video first showed this AK-9 (auto-canine or auto-K-9, as I have labeled it for myself) running down a street all by itself, and then following what looked like a soldier in camouflage up the hill. The narrator said something along the lines: "It is a remarkable moment... but our producer almost felt sick seeing this as she saw a glimpse of the Terminator world." I got the sentiment immediately. I too thought to myself, "We are #$@!-ed. The ultimate war machines are here. The near-total population control has arrived." Images of police vans with AK-9 lettering flashed in my mind as well as various extrapolations of the next World War.

But then my mind took a very different path, a path I had not previously considered. I recalled how sometimes, when I have to kill a couple of early evening hours with my daughter, I take her for a stroll along with my German shepherd into the heart of all this futuristic techno-mess - into the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh that is teeming with bright-eyed CMU (Carnegie Mellon University) students. And I realized that I am not afraid of where these neo-nerdy brainiacs are taking us. (I was one of them once, with an AK-47 though, but I remember it clearly: I couldn't wait to get home from the service to continue with the business of fooling around that had been put on hold by the Soviet military). So, I am not afraid of their toys. How come?

Here it is, the reason that I wrote down this flight of thought and took you on this narrative zigzag. I suspect that all these kids (20-somethings) really want to do is to play. Here it is, the realization: "The war of tomorrow will be a form of competitive global pastime." Let me clarify: After millions of human deaths that we are yet to experience, after miles and Niles of blood rivers, I believe we will eventually arrive at a world where war will be entirely mechanized. We will eventually evolve -- through a curious eddy of moral degeneration -- into an era in which wars will be fought entirely by remote control by hero-geeks. We will, as I now dare to envision, transform wars into sports and death-combat into play-it-again diversions.

You may say, "Pavel, dear fool, this already exists." Indeed, drone war-fare is war by remote control. But the reason why this war is still war is because it is asymmetrical (one-sided). Recall my original axiom: "All weaponry will eventually turn against itself." West might enjoy a certain monopoly on these kinds of military technologies for a century or two. But knowledge will eventually spread and Terminator wars will play themselves out to the bitter and bloody end. And the only exit ramp from this autobahn-into-nowhere is to make these wars completely mechanized, i.e. bloodless. And as soon as some bright kid on CMU campus (or elsewhere) figures out how to bring the mechanization of warfare to its logical completion, war will become sports and we will find ourselves only at war with our own neurotic, dualistic selves.

One thing will not however change: there still will be bookies.