For centuries technology has redefined war and the warriors who fight it, but the pace of change is now accelerating at a dizzying rate and it has implications that many warriors should find disturbing.

Warriors have always been under threat from the development of weapons. When, for example, the young hero of Stendhal’s novel The Charterhouse of Parma, the young idealistic Fabrizio, first encounters the Napoleonic battlefield, an old woman warns him: ‘your grip isn’t strong enough yet for the sabre fighting that will go on today. If you had a musket I wouldn’t say anything, because you could fire your bullet as well as anyone else.’ Even the old woman recognises that to fire a musket requires a minimum amount of training learned quickly. The action is largely mechanistic. The swordsman, by contrast, has to devote years of practice to master his art.1