Strategy, Evolution, and War: From Apes to Artificial Intelligence by Kenneth Payne (Georgetown University Press, 2018)

“Strategy, Evolution, and War: From Apes to Artificial Intelligence

by Kenneth Payne

Georgetown University Press, 2018.

Kenneth Payne is a senior lecturer in the School of Security Studies at King’s College, London. He is also a senior member of St Antony’s College, Oxford University, having earlier been a visiting fellow in the Department of International Relations there. Payne’s research is broadly in the field of political psychology and strategic studies. He is the author of two previous books, The Psychology of Strategy: Exploring Rationality in the Vietnam War and The Psychology of Modern Conflict.

This book is about the psychological and biological bases of strategy making in war as they have evolved in humans over our history as a species. The book is also a cautionary preview of how Artificial Intelligence (AI) will revolutionize strategy more than any development in the last three thousand years of military history. Machines will make important decisions about war on both sides, and they may do so without input from humans. Kenneth Payne describes strategy as an evolved package of conscious and unconscious behaviors with roots in our primate ancestry. Human-made strategy is influenced by emotion as well as reason, with both positive and negative results. The strategic implications of AI are profound because they depart radically from the biological basis of human intelligence. Rather than being just another tool of war, AI will exponentially speed up decisionmaking, make choices humans might not make, and force faster actions and reactions. This book is a fascinating examination of the psychology of strategy-making from prehistoric times, through the ancient world, and into the modern age. It also offers a concerning preview of a future when humans cede at least some control over their destiny.”

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