Strategy, Evolution, and War

cover art
272 pp., 6 x 9
ISBN: 9781626165793 (1626165793)

272 pp., 6 x 9
ISBN: 9781626165809 (1626165807)

June 2018



Strategy, Evolution, and War
From Apes to Artificial Intelligence
Kenneth Payne
Decisions about war have always been made by humans, but now intelligent machines are on the cusp of changing things - with dramatic consequences for international affairs. This book explores the evolutionary origins of human strategy, and makes a provocative argument that Artificial Intelligence will radically transform the nature of war by changing the psychological basis of decision-making about violence.

Strategy, Evolution, and War is a cautionary preview of how Artificial Intelligence (AI) will revolutionize strategy more than any development in the last three thousand years of military history. Kenneth Payne describes strategy as an evolved package of conscious and unconscious behaviors with roots in our primate ancestry. Our minds were shaped by the need to think about warfare—a constant threat for early humans. As a result, we developed a sophisticated and strategic intelligence.

The 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 dramatically speed up decision making and use very different cognitive processes, including when deciding to launch an attack, or escalate violence. AI will change the essence of strategy, the organization of armed forces, and the international order.

This book is a fascinating examination of the psychology of strategy-making from prehistoric times, through the ancient world, and into the modern age.
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.
"Payne brings us to our biological roots to explain the evolution of strategy only then to take us on a ride towards the emerging and future conditions of how artificial intelligence (AI) will challenge these very roots. Rather than a cautionary tale, this is an artful analysis of the gains and trade-offs that come with bringing AI together with strategy making. Conceptually well grounded, the book presents biology, anthropology and history to corroborate and then challenge traditional strategic studies."—David Galbreath, Dean, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Professor of International Security, University of Bath

"Military strategy has, till now, been in the hands of humans with all their emotions and feelings. But as part of a natural evolutionary process, like many aspects of our lives, it is about to go through an artificial intelligence metamorphosis. In the future will we merely defer more and more to intelligent machine thinking because of the competitive advantages gained, thereby realising unintended consequences in handing power to machine oracles? Or rather will we look to human-artificial intelligence hybrids, who will at least have some sort of psychological basis for their strategic planning? As Kenneth Payne points out in his brilliant book, the ultimate war to come will be between biological intelligences of some kind and the desire of the warfighting technologies themselves."—Kevin Warwick, professor emeritus at University of Reading and Coventry University

"Strategy, Evolution and War is a provocative analysis of the impact of human evolutionary psychology on the past, present and future of war. It gives an invaluable basis for analyzing military thinking, including the chilling risks foreshadowed by the militarization of Artificial Intelligence.'"—Richard Wrangham, author, Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human